INSIDE GAMES

JURASSIC PARK BUILDER

I know I m not the only Jurassic Park fan out there. I remember how enamored I was when the first movie hit the big screen. The prospect of dinosaurs living among humans in the modern world is one of the greatest science fiction stories ever told. I remember as a child thinking how cool it would be to “own my own” Jurassic Park. And now 20 years later, it seems I ll get that dream thanks to the release of the iOS title Jurassic Park Builder.

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GRAPHICS

I actually really liked the graphics here. I wasn t expecting them to be extravagant since most “builder” type games cover so much distance. From a graphical standpoint, if you had a ton of animations in your park that all looked flawless and realistic, you d probably end up with some pretty bad performance issues. But still, everything looked good. Most of it appears to be two-dimensional hand-drawn objects and landscapes, which is really admirable. The exception is the dinosaurs themselves, which are all 3D models. I believe this was due to the animations, as it was probably much easier to animate the low-poly 3D models of the dinos rather than draw them out. Cohesively though, it all flows very well together. You are allowed to zoom in, by pinching, but it definitely degrades the graphics. The closer you are to an object the more blurred and blocky it looks. It s a much better experience if you just keep it at the stock distance.

Graphics are actually a big part of this game, considering it s a “builder” and a customizable landscape. You want your park to look as good as possible and I feel like the developers captured the “feeling” of Jurassic Park quite well with the visuals.

SOUND

I am in love with the sound on this game.

I can t tell you how many times I ve come across a game with lackluster sound, or annoying repeated effects that get stale quickly. I am very happy to say that Jurassic Park Builder is the complete opposite of this. All of the music, and sound effects, are incredibly theatrical and powerful. It s almost as if you are watching the movie again, with a deep adventurous musical score accompanying you on your journey. It s a very refreshing thing, to hear such a complex and beautifully done track and it definitely helps to increase the game s immersion.

The sound effects were crafted in the same way, employing a variety of powerful tones that make you feel as if you re really there. You ll hear the gentle shifting of jungle life in the background, accentuated by the squawk of an avian and a loud echoing screech. Tapping on each dinosaur will give you a unique sound; some of them roar loudly, while others let out a high-pitched squeal. It s pretty awesome that the development team focused so heavily on the effects here, making sure this experience wasn t full of rehashed and reused tones. This is definitely one of the better sounding games on the market. I would recommend using some headphones here too, as it really helps to “boost” the sound. You ll end up hearing some things you wouldn t hear through just your speakers.

GAMEPLAY

If you ve ever played a building game or a park creation game, then you ll know exactly what to expect from this title. It s pretty stock compared to other releases in its genre and it follows the same premise. For anyone unfamiliar with these game types, your goal is basically to build and generate as much money as possible. Upon starting a new game, you ll be presented with a baby Triceratops. Feeding your dino will cause him to grow, and large dinosaurs attract more attention. Likewise, larger dinosaurs also generate more cash. This amount is highlighted once you click on your creature and it will display how many coins your attraction will make over a certain period of time.

You can also build a variety of stores and structures to help you generate more cash flow. Decorations act as multipliers, boosting your rates for whatever attraction they are near. You ll also be able to build roads, which allow tours to make their way through your park. A nifty tutorial and mission system will give you all the information you ll need to craft a wonderful site. There is also a nice little social aspect to the game that lets you visit with friends and random strangers, viewing their parks and creations.

The gameplay is pretty typical but is still really entertaining. The ability to place roads anywhere for free, paired with all of the decorations and displays makes this a very customizable and in-depth experience. Unfortunately, there doesn t appear to be a lot of dinosaur types or enclosures. Hopefully the developers will release more with subsequent updates.

If they don t, I fear the game will really lack the length to appeal to most gamers, considering that once you build a dinosaur

habitat you cannot build another of the same type (at least not early in the game).

OVERALL

This is a great release overall and I feel like the creators have done the world of Jurassic Park justice. However, I am rather upset that this game follows suit with other mobile titles in its genre. The prospect of having to wait for enclosures to build or having to spend real money to accelerate your building time is a real let down. At the end of the day, as much as I hate to say it, this title feels just like another money grab which is a serious downside to those of you who were excited about the prospect of building your own Jurassic Park. You can still do this though, just be prepared to wait for quite a long time to see your park truly take shape.

Pros:

  • Amazing sound
  • Good, solid graphics
  • A decent amount of depth and customization
  • Cons:
  • At the end of the day, just another money grab
  • Could use some more dinosaur options and types

CLASH OF CLANS

Even though it s not my primary focus when I play games, from time to time I get these powerful cravings to play Real Time Strategy titles. Unfortunately though, I haven t been really excited for an RTS since the dawn of games like Warcraft and Command and Conquer. There hasn t been a great title in a really long time and I ve been actively searching through the annals of the App Store to see if iOS has anything to curb my appetite. This week, I happened upon the featured game Clash of Clans. This promising RTS-like game from developer Supercell had me fairly excited that I had found a suitable cure for my strategy blues.

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GRAPHICS

Although the graphics are cartoony, they re pretty on par visually with most other RTS titles. For anyone unfamiliar, the usual RTS is played on a vast battlefield, which requires a lot of computing power to operate. For that reason, the 3D models and character avatars are often low poly to ensure that gameplay experiences no slow down. Clash of Clans is the same way, featuring a zoomed out, top down map interface with a variety of basic looking buildings and environments. However, since it displays in such a cartoony way it actually appears to look a lot better than the traditional realistic RTS would.

The animations flow smoothly, using a variety of playfully colored sprite streams to mimic cannon artillery, magic, and flames. Once again, the whimsical aspect to the game actually helps the graphics to appear as they should, without deteriorating the gameplay itself. This was a smart move on the developer s part and the end result will have you visually enjoying your landscapes, enemies, and items, without sacrificing any other important aspects of the title.

My only real qualm with the visuals lies in the sometimes hasty animations that appear whenever battle is initiated. Characters that walk and operate at normal speed take to a running stance, but the animations appear to be all too quick and they don t really match what one would expect to see. The projectiles and magic operate in much the same way. It s obvious that the developers wanted to up the realism by making it a more energetic and rushed animation when you re fighting, but it just feels out of place all together. It s definitely not going to ruin your experience by any means, but it s something that the artists might consider fixing in a future update.

SOUND

The sound in Clash of Clans is pretty generic and to be honest, you re probably not playing an RTS for the soundtrack so it ends up not even being an issue. For the sake of review purposes, I found the overall effects and scores to be fairly stale. I ve played a lot of other RTS titles that at least put enough effort into their work to give you a casual track to listen to while you re not in battle, which isn t the case for this game. Instead of subtle music, you re presented simply with nature sounds, or the gentle racket of what resembles a small working village.

From a combat sound and fighting effects standpoint, there isn t really much to swoon over either. The basic grunts and slashes you hear when commanding your warriors and foot units is pretty stock amongst all games in this genre and Clash of Clans doesn t offer much to alter that stereotype. It s obvious that developers didn t spend a lot of time focusing on this aspect of the game, and to be fair, not that many RTS developers do any way.

GAMEPLAY

Upon first inspection of the gameplay, I was pretty excited. I saw the ability to craft different buildings as well as a variety of troop types. However, after a closer look I noticed one fairly glaring issue for the hardcore RTS enthusiast. This is most definitely a stripped down casual version of a normal strategy game, with a lot less customization and a much easier-to-master interface. That means that this game was designed to appeal to a wider array of gamers, giving each and every one a taste of the RTS strategy without a learning curve. This is good for the generalist gamer out there, but probably a pretty disappointing experience to the hardcore RTS lovers.

That said, it s still a pretty enjoyable experience, from a gameplay standpoint. The object of the title is fairly simplistic. Build and design a village while fending off and attacking nearby baddies. You ll have to train troops to fight for you, as well as mine for gold and other resources. However, unlike the traditional RTS, you ll only have to worry about a few variables to create items, rather than a plethora of materials. This allows you to focus less on gathering, and more on constructing and building outward. And at the end of the day, that s pretty much what you re limited to. Growing, fighting, and growing more, which may appeal to some but can get repetitive for most players. Unlike the traditional RTS that are “round based,” Clash of Clans is a seemingly never-ending hybrid between the traditional park builder and a combat strategy title.

Also, unlike most other RTS games, you have the addition of social media aspects. You can “visit” other friends worlds as well as call for them in times of battle. This opens it up to act more like a park builder and less like an RTS, focusing more on making friends and banding together than focusing your might to crush your enemy on your own. This is just one more reason that Clash of Clans might be a turn off to the traditional RTS enthusiast.

The other downside, which really has me annoyed at times, is the timer that prevents you from immediately making troops and creating buildings. You have to wait incredibly long periods of time at points, which really takes away from the gameplay. You can, of course, speed up the time it takes to build something, but it ends up costing you real world USD to do so. I m really starting to get aggravated with blatant money grabs and Clash of Clans definitely has a section dedicated to that.

OVERALL

This is a good effort, and a good addition to the world of casual games, especially since it gives an RTS feeling to the generalist gamer. However, I was a little turned off by the overly cartoony graphics and the lack of any real customization. Perhaps if it was more like an RTS and offered more of a real battle situation with timed rounds then it would appeal more to my appetite for these types of games. So, at the end of the day, you ve got a decent release with some solid graphics and okay sound. Nothing spectacular, but at the same time, on par with all of the other casual iOS titles to hit the marketplace.

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