Thursday, September 27, 2012

Amazing Runner [Freyr Games] - $0.99

Freyr Games, the studio behind the addictive title Star Warfare: Alien Invasion, has just added another notch in their gaming belt with the release of the Endless Runner, aptly titled Amazing Runner. Created using the Unreal Engine, you can pretty much bet on the graphics being great, and the controls being fairly simple. With the gameplay from their previous title, Star Warfare, the expectations for Amazing Runner are pretty high, but, like most games, there’s quite a few things that will dictate whether or not it’ll be worth sticking around for in a genre that’s incredibly over-packed already.

Diving right in, Amazing Runner has one gameplay mode, a Store containing upgradeable items, consumable items, characters and gems via IAP and a Stats menu containing the 20 achievements that can be found in GameCenter. Like most runners, Amazing Runner is all about getting as far as you can, chasing high scores and collecting as many gems as you can so that you can hopefully better your score the next run. 
Now, with there only being 1 enemy type, right off the bat it feels like Freyr Games designed the game around trying to make complex environmental designs that would check your reflexes instead of sending wave after wave of enemies your way to see if you could dodge or kill them. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, in fact, I love fantastic level designs, but the way that it’s handled here isn’t too impressive. There’s 6 separate sections that are put together randomly. A left or right turn with a jump right after it, a straight-a-way, a loop, a section of platforms on the left and right sides of the screen, another section of platforms on the top and bottom of the screen and the end of ‘level’ tunnel. 

Making your way through these areas isn’t particularly difficult. To jump, you swipe up, a tap on the screen will let you slice through enemies, loops are handled by drawing a counter-clockwise circle on the screen about 2X the speed of your character, and jumping to platforms on the top, bottom and sides of the screen is also handled with swipes in the appropriate direction. 

As you make your way through each ‘level’ you’ll eventually come to a tunnel. Here is where your speed will be increased for the next ‘level’. Each level is handled by an environment change, bonus gems, and the addition of an enemy into the enemy pattern seen beforehand. The bonus gems start off at 50, and increase by 50 with each environment you make it to, and the enemies eventually start appearing in the middle of gem lines and back to back as well as placed in areas that will make you have to get out of the way instead of always just slashing through them. There is a bit of cool down after your character lands, making it very hard to attack an enemy right after landing, and you are unable to start an attack while still in the air, so you’re pretty much forced into weaving out of the way. 
Once you get comfortable with the 5 or 6 different sections of the game, you’re set. Aside from the change in environments and added number of enemies later on, once you’ve ran through the first ¼ of the first environment, you’ve basically seen everything the game has to offer in terms of level design. 

The shop does contain some basic items; 2X gem power-up, a magnet, shield, rocket booster and health upgrade, all of which, minus the health upgrade, will appear in-game once you purchase them, with a higher chance of appearing each time you ‘upgrade’ them. The 2X gem counter doesn’t double to 4X and the magnet, rocket booster and shields do not last longer. As far as I can tell, there are also no points within the game at which two items will become available at the same time. You do start off with 3 Hit Points, and are able to purchase 3 more in the shop bringing the total to 6. There are also consumable items like a revive kit that brings you back to life after dying and a headstart that gives you a boost at the beginning of the game, both available in single packs or packs of five. The characters that you’re able to purchase are pretty expensive, priced at 80,000, 100,000 and 120,000 gems, but do not add anything different to the gameplay and are only for cosmetic favorings. Lastly, the IAP gems. You’re able to purchase 10,000 gems for $0.99, 75,000 for $4.99, 200,000 for $9.99 and 500,000 for $19.99. The gems in game are given out at about the rate you would expect if you’re familiar with Star Warfare. Gaining between 500 and 2,000 gems per run would be about average, but you’re also given gems once you complete the achievements/objectives in the Stats menu. 

Priced at $0.99, being Universal, and running fairly smooth, even on a 4th gen Touch, especially considering it’s running through the Unreal Engine, if you’re a hardcore fan of runners, you might get a decent amount of enjoyment out of Amazing Runner. But if you’re looking for something with more randomness in the level design, more than one enemy and a game that will not require endless hours of grinding or a $10-$20 IAP purchase to snag just about everything in the game, you might want to hold off on Amazing Runner and see what  Freyr Games does with it in the future. Looking back at all of the updates that Star Warfare received after it’s release, I think it’s fair to say that Amazing Runner will receive quite a few tweaks over it’s lifetime. Maybe I’m burnt out on runners. Maybe I had expectations that were a little too high. I dunno, but I expected a little more from the developers of Star Warfare.


Hmm, been getting tired these endless runner games...but this one looks pretty good, might just have to give this one a go!

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