Mobile Musings – Lock ‘n’ Load, Shaun the Sheep & This Could Hurt

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Lock ‘n’ Load

(iTunes Preview)

There are a crazy amount of dual-stick shooter available at present for mobile gaming fans to get there teeth stuck into, and another to add to the list is Lock ‘n’ Load. However, the good news is that although similar in some ways, Lock ‘n’ Load goes down a slightly different route with its quirky story and presentation.The story set within the game is as follows, a terrifying and ultimately naughty girl has bought earth down a peg or two with the influx of monsters attacking at every corner and your job is to of course, stop them with all your might/weapons/level-ups and anything else that you can find to take out the ghastly monsters that are threatening you and all the good that is around you. The story which Lock ‘n Load is focused around is ultimately slightly nuts and maybe a little different than most but it also gives the game the edge over titles that are in the same field as Lock ‘n’ Load as its a refreshing and new experience and something that stands out from the rest of the crowd due to its approach on storytelling.  Gameplay wise, the title is action-packed with 16 levels at your disposal which feature huge shootouts with the monsters, puzzles and huge environments for you to scale and search at your disposal.

Some various sections of the levels feature crazy boss-like monsters chasing you which include a giant pumpkin for example which gives the title a refreshing twist compared to the standard and repetitive enemy styling which we unfortunately see in many games at present on mobile platforms. Maybe some will argue that there should be more than the standard 16 levels from day one but the levels included from the off will keep you occupied from day one with a huge amount of each level to explore and the developer has added a ‘challenge’ section to give the title even more longevity. Various weapons and other items can also be unlocked with the further you progress in the main section of the story mode but unfortunately, if you want the best of the best in terms of guns etc then you will more than likely need to spend your hard earned cash to buy upgrades with like I’ve stated in previous reviews, I’m not a fan of at all if it hampers the experience and What the user can get out of it and its a shame to say, it happens in Lock ‘n’ Load as well. Its likely that with further updates developer, Chillingo will add even more of the huge environments by including brand new content as well but as a standard package, the game offers more than just what looks like 16 levels with the scope of each level itself giving the user a huge amount to explore on its own.Control schemes on touchscreen mobile devices have also been a bit hit and miss in the dedicated shooting genre but for the most part, the title works fantastically with the controls feeling responsive, easy to use and slick which is a nice and welcomed change. There are still slight issues at times but nothing to really cause a major problem to your gaming enjoyment. Graphically, Lock ‘n’ load is colorful, bright, detailed and is overall, a clean and pleasant looking game. There were on rare occasions where I did have slight issues with my iPhone 4s having some graphical textures problems but it didn’t hamper the experience in a huge way.

Niggles aside, Lock ‘n’ Load is one of the best dual-stick shooters available at present with fantastic level design, a great control scheme and engrossing yet strange and eccentric storyline but it pulls it off with a fun, and simple idea which makes it stand out from the rest of the ‘shooter’ crowd.

7.5/10

Shaun the Sheep – Fleece Lightning

(iTunes Preview)

Everyone loves a bit of Shaun the Sheep, Right? Well, after his various escapades in film and TV, the lovable sheep is back in digital gaming form in Shaun the Sheep – Fleece Lighting. The object of the game is that you (Shaun the Sheep) have to race through various obstacle-filled paths and beat a herd of speedy pigs to the end of each course using nothing but your navigating skills to get past a various influx of obstacles and hinderances along the way. The game is packed with a huge amount of levels (80 in total) all with diverse terrain and obstacles to hinder you and to cause you problems along the way which include bails of hay, vehicles, barns and barrels. The gameplay is simple yet great fun and rewarding at the same time and keeps you on the edge of your seat because one wrong move, means restarting the level and this tension really adds to the whole experience. The game starts out in an easy manner and to progress is very simple but gradually over time, the learning curve will hit you in the face like a wet fish due to the titles severe learning-curve the more you progress through the 80 odd levels that are thrown your way. While each level is enjoyable, it surprising that the learning curve is so steep for a title which is no doubt being aimed at the younger audience of mobile gamers and at times, it does feel very frustrating when you find yourself restarting a level time and again. Its still fun don’t get me wrong but I personally feel that they should have dumbed down the difficulty a touch. Developer Green Ant Games gives the user three control options which vary and suit each player with pros and cons for each control method that can be used to control your digital Shaun the Sheep onscreen. The first control scheme works with on-screen arrows to steer, slide and jump, the second is using your mobile devices accelerometer to control all your actions and my favourite of the three control options is the ability to swipe on screen to in various ways to complete the various actions to get you to the end of each level. The previous two control methods work to an extent but unfortunately, they feel clunky and underdeveloped.

The overall look of Shaun the Sheep – Fleece Lightning is a clean one with superb detailed touches which keep to the famous look that everyone has come to expect from Aardman Animations. The developer has done an amazing job of getting the plastacine look to transfer over to a a digital medium brilliantly. Fantastic little details always add to the overall experience and this doesn’t skimp away from anything regarding getting the full authentic look of the famous sheep and the environments in the game, spot on. Green Ant Games also decided to add a little longevity with the title in the form of a level editor in which you can create up to 16 customised races to practice on and while this is a great extra mode to have because of its superb editing options under the hood, the odd decision from the developer was not to have any sort of online play integrated into the game so that you and others can experience your created races against others aka Modnation Racers style track sharing. This does seem an odd choice but maybe this is something that will be added in a future update. Lets hope so anyway. Anyway, hats off to the developer for adding this mode for its practice and editing options as its still a great added bonus to have without a shadow of a doubt. Shaun the Sheep – Fleece Lightning does exactly what you expect it to do straight from the word go. Its simple yet brilliant fun, engrossing and doesn’t try to be something it isn’t. If you want a serious style racer then there are plenty to keep you occupied on the App Store but if you fancy something that is charming, cute, challenging, hugely addictive and innocent, then this is right up your street.

9/10

This Could Hurt

This Could Hurt is a platformer with a slight difference. Built up within gorgeous 3D worlds, you control a young boy that has to get from a to b without losing your life and all of this is done with a simple ‘one touch’ on screen action. Your onscreen character automatically moves for you and by pressing and holding on the screen, you stop him in his tracks. To make him carry on his journey through the level, simply take your finger off the screen and he carries on his quest to get to the end of the level. It might sound like its very simplistic and that you will cruise through the game in no time but it was never going to be that easy. You climb and shimmy down ladders, traverse through various gaps, over collapsable floors all while having various obstructions that include, spike pits, wrecking balls, fire and blades for instance to dodge, avoid and miss. The game includes four worlds (Forest, Ruins, Snow and Lava) and each include new and more treacherous obstacles. When starting the game in Forest World, you are eased into the whole idea and what the game is all about and what your objective is all about. The learning curve is fantastic as it shows you exactly what you need to do and what your task is at the start of the game while the levels and the worlds later on become more challenging but rewarding at the same time. Each levels gives you a dedicated time limit to complete the course and the quicker and the more you collect during each level, you are rewarded with acorns in which you can buy special powerups to help you during the later and more challenging levels. Even by completing a level without any damage will get you more points to go towards buying more powerups. Powerups include anything from slowing down all dangers around you to giving you an invincibility shield for a dedicated amount of time.

This Could Hurt features the main single-player mode along with a high score online mode through Game Centre that tracks and posts all your best score to friends and global players. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feature any fully fledged online modes but its not the right type of game to incorporate this into so not including them, is a good choice in my eyes. The game also features a dedicated add-on store where you can buy extra acorns, powerups and the ability to unlock all levels with real life cash if you so wish but the game is such an enjoyable and fun experience that I doubt you will delve into this section of the app at all. One thing that really stands out from this title is its looks. Its stunning and the worlds have been created with such beauty and craft and the overall package really is beautifully developed and to think that this is a mobile title, is unbelievable. There are some full fledged £5 XBLA or PSN titles that don’t look as good as this and this is at a fraction of the cost. Chillingo really have stepped their game up with this title and there is no doubting that this is one of the best looking mobile titles we have seen so far. This Could hurt really is a game that is a perfect package rolled into a beautiful digital chunk of App Store storage space. With the ability to add more levels to an already fantastic roster of levels later on through updates, this could be the next Temple Run or Angry Birds as it has that much potential. Yes, it might not be challenging enough for some and that might put some hardcore mobile gamers off but in my eyes mobile gaming is more about the fun and the pick up and play element rather than the hardcore dedicated title that we found on consoles and PC’s and This Could Hurt fits perfectly in that bracket.

This Could Hurt is one of the best mobile game experiences that I have had to this day and one of the most addictive, fun, enchanting, elegant and simple games that ive had the pleasure to experience. If you own a smartphone or a tablet, this is a must-buy. Magnificent.

8.5/10

I'm a huge fan of the PES, MGS and Uncharted series', and anything else in between. If you love a good gaming discussion or want to talk about anything else, then feel free to get in touch.

@GariClark

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