Outland Games (iOS) review
Outland Games is a new iOS game from Uber Entertainment, creators of the popular Monday Night Combat series of MOBA games on Xbox 360 and PC. It’s available now as a $0.99 download from the App Store, with additional in-app purchases of in-game currency and booster items.
Outland Games is an endless runner set in the Monday Night Combat universe, in which players take on the role of the series’ Assassin character as she attempts to traverse a perilous obstacle course and win her freedom. Gameplay is very simple, consisting of only two controls — tapping on the left side of the screen causes the Assassin to jump while tapping on the right side causes her to attack. The Assassin can “double jump” by tapping the jump button in mid-air, and using an attack while in the air allows her to suspend herself for a moment — a technique that is sometimes necessary to clear large gaps.
As the player progresses, they collect coins which can be spent between attempts on a variety of things including costumes, weapons and upgrades to the collectible powerups that appear at random on each run. The weapons and costumes are primarily cosmetic in nature, though some of the costumes have new animations. Rather predictably, the more “provocative” female costumes are among the most expensive, with a schoolgirl outfit costing 20,000 coins (compared to 7,500 for the next most expensive costume, a “demon Megabeth” outfit) — that said, the most expensive costume in the game is actually a digital recreation of YouTube parkour star AZO (aka Aung Zaw Oo, aka “The Coolest Guy in the World”) in full skateboarding gear. AZO actually works for Uber Entertainment as an animator, so his inclusion (twice — once as a runner, once as a skateboarder) is perhaps not altogether surprising — though his freerunning and other acrobatic antics have given him a certain cult following on the Internet at large.
Social features for the game make use of Game Center, primarily for leaderboards. After each level, the user sees a Friends leaderboard allowing them to compare their best scores and distances run with other Game Center friends who are playing the game. It seems a little erratic as to whether or not this leaderboard updates correctly following a completed run — see the screenshot below, in which the score I achieved does not match the score recorded on the leaderboard — but this is likely related to Internet connectivity rather than being an outright bug in the game itself. Still, it would be better if the game indicated when poor connectivity was preventing the leaderboard from updating correctly — at present, it simply looks like it’s not working as intended at times. There’s also no apparent means of accessing the Game Center interface from the post-game screen to send Challenges with iOS 6 — given that Outland Games is a title pretty much made for this overlooked feature of the latest Game Center, this is somewhat surprising. The leaderboards can be accessed from the game’s title screen, but this adds some rather unnecessary steps to the process and isn’t made at all obvious to the player, since the leaderboard function is hidden beneath a pop-up menu.
On the whole, Outland Games is a pretty good game. At heart, it is yet another in the long line of endless runner games on iOS, but at least it is a good one. The graphics, sound and animation are all excellent, the controls are responsive, and the characteristic snarky commentator from Monday Night Combat is present and correct, adding a degree of humor to the proceedings — that said, he does have something of a tendency to repeat himself even over the course of a single run so future updates should perhaps include some more phrases for him to berate the player with. The game is a good first step into mobile for Uber, and hopefully it won’t be the last time we see an offering from the team on the iOS platform.
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A solid endless runner, and a good first step into mobile for Uber Entertainment.