Last week we covered all kinds of smart adventure/puzzle games, so we veered more towards violent limb-snapping action titles this week. Enjoy!
The Dark Knight Rises (iOS and Android, £4.99)
One of the more impressive movie tie-ins of late, Dark Knight Rises is an ambitious action game that mimics the incredible Arkham console titles, but follows the storyline of Christopher Nolan’s epic film. You have full control of Batman as he sprints, glides and thwacks his way around Gotham, chasing Bane and his army of cronies. You manoeuvre around the crisp 3D environments using a virtual analogue stick, while moving the camera by flicking at the screen. Occasionally it can get a little clumsy, but for a touch-screen game the controls work well. Fighting is also well handled, using a simple combo of analogue stick and punch/block buttons.
This being a Batman game, you have access to some cool gadgets, including the iconic Batarang. We also love the way you can pull yourself up to ledges, to spy on baddies or drop down on them unexpectedly, and Batman’s abilities are fully upgradeable using accumulated experience points (although the reek of in-game purchases wafts in, as you can buy points if your patience runs thin). Missions mostly consist of running through linear levels, beating up everyone you see, but there are side missions to explore in the occasional open-world segment, as well as mini games for hacking your way into new areas. We did encounter some irritating glitches and the game crashed on us more than once, but this is an entertaining and impressive effort given its timely release.
Reiner Knizia’s Mosaic (iOS, 69p)
We recently reviewed Reiner Knizia's City of Secrets Pipes, a unique little puzzle game that proved just a little too frustrating due to a large element of luck. Well, all is forgiven thanks to this follow-up effort, Mosaic, which has you filling a grid of coloured balls with matching double-sided tiles until none are left – a kind of funky mash-up between dominoes and Bubble Bobble. It’s surprisingly easy to pick up and you’ll have to use all of your wits to develop a winning strategy. Fans of Sudoku and similar brainteasers should thoroughly enjoy it, as you often have to think several moves ahead, especially in the more challenging levels.
You get 18 standard puzzles, plus another 18 where many of the tiles are blank, requiring an entirely different strategy altogether. These 36 levels had us hooked for hours, although how much of that’s down to our dithering dumbness, it’s hard to tell. There’s no denying that Mosaic is one of the most addictive puzzlers we’ve played in ages, and the charming graphics and orchestral soundtrack add further quality to an already excellent package.
Gears & Guts (iOS and Android, Free)
Yes, we know, zombies have been done to death the past couple of years. It seems every other smartphone game features legions of lumbering undead mischief makers, but Gears & Guts is still a tremendously fun and addictive game. Instead of running away from the shuffling hordes, Gears & Guts has you cutting a swathe right through them in your trusty car, just like the original Carmaggedon. Sure, you’ll have missions to follow – deliver care packages to survivors before the time runs out, or escort someone from A to B – but the meat of the game is mowing down the decomposing brain-chompers in the most violent and hilarious manner possible.
The camera follows you from above as you reap merry destruction, and the controls are pleasingly simple: you can either use virtual accelerate/reverse/left/right buttons, or tilt your phone to go in a set direction. The graphics are suitably gory, with plenty of guitar-heavy rock acting as a perfect soundtrack to your killing sprees. Our favourite part however is the car customisation – not only can you change your vehicle, you can also kit it out with all kinds of chainsaws, flame throwers and heavy artillery. The big stuff comes in especially handy when taking on the tougher, bigger enemies...
But beware – Gears & Guts may be free to download, but you have to pay out for coins to spend on further upgrades, which is all but necessary to progress through the game. It's a ridiculous and underhand strategy of prising your hard-earned cash from you and detracts from an otherwise glossy effort.