Draw Something!

My friend messaged me frantically and suggested (Ney, demanded) I get this app and let me tell you now. I do not regret it for one second! It is basically Pictionary. I play it on my iPhone but you can play it through Facebook too. The idea is basically that you get to choose from one of three words and then you have to draw a picture to explain what that word means and if your opponent guesses correctly then you both win coins. They must then draw a picture and send it to you for you to guess. There is no time limit and you can play against friends through Facebook or Username or simply play against a random opponent!

This game is both fun and challenging! Yesterday I got the word "popular" and had to describe it which is near impossible to explain in one picture. Usually you get an option to pick between three words. One easy, one medium and one hard! I find that they usually always give you at least one option that you can definitely draw! What makes the game that bit more fun is that the other player can see you drawing on their screen! This can include you deleting the entire image to start again, But pauses are taken out! If you stop to change colour or do something else, it will ignore that pause on your opponents screen! You can also watch your opponent making their guess which is sometimes quite funny when they start guessing before the picture has completed (and sometimes after). 

The game continues indefinitely until someone cannot figure out a picture and forfeits. It then will start over again (on turn 1) on the next turn! There is no real winner as such, it just seems to be an addictive game with a simple premise. I do hope to see updates soon with more words as I've started encountering duplicates and a lack of variety. My friend and I were both playing against my Girlfriend and we both got the same word against her which took some of the fun out of it at the time. Once they resolve the lack of words issue then I'm positive that the game will be flawless! 

There are two versions of the game (on Android and on Apple devices), one is an ad-supported free version which just fine, and the other costs the minimum price of an app (79c in IRE , 69p in the UK, 99c in the US) which has no ads and gives you a bonus 400 coins which you can spend on colours and bombs in the in-game store. Colours give you a better ability to draw pictures in more detail and bombs help you get rid of the letters that are not involved in the current word. You get five bombs to begin with but getting more will cost you. It's all those micro-transactions that any game offers to make them a little bit more money. 

If you have an iPad then I would suggest playing on that as a large screen is much more suited for a game like this. I generally use my phone to play while I'm on the move and it has been great! I strongly recommend this game! It's fun to play with friends or strangers and it's always worth a laugh! I have to take points from it due to the fact it tends to give you a lot of stupid words that aren't in the average day vocabulary, but beyond that it is a great game! 

Overall Rating: 6/10

If you wish to download it in the iTunes App store, click here

If you wish to download it in the Android store, click here

- Ken Seiler

 

Mass Effect 3

This review comes to you somewhat incomplete. I'm about 15 hours in. I've almost cried twice already. I don't mind admitting that. Not naming any names, there is a scene some way in that is one of the most well crafted cut sequences I've ever seen in a video game, and one of the most deftly handled character send offs I've seen in any medium, period. It's that good. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that a character will die. You're at war. The galaxy is at war. Billions are lost every hour you play. The Reapers continue their seemingly unstoppable onslaught while you, valiant Commander Shepard, desperately fly doing everything you can to stop them. But no matter what you do, you can't save them all.

This is what makes the losses of Mass Effect all the more poignant. As you look up from the surface of a moon and see a planet bathed in the continent-sized firestorms of a giant death-machine invasion, you can't help but feel the nagging doubt that not everyone is going to make it home. Your fears are later confirmed. It is in this tangible sense of loss that Bioware's scifi epic reaches its true maturity. All the strand established over three massive games all intertwine. These are the characters you know and love, the ones you NEED by your side. If you're not fighting for the countless organics across known space, you can be damn sure you're fighting for them. The war creates a sense of tangible urgency in a manner that I don't think was present in the other games of the series. In one stand out scene, one character remarks to the other how he cannot understand the lightness the Citadel residents are taking day to day life. Ever knowing, Shepard remarks that it's all a front to disguise their terror at what is really happening out there. Sure, it's a neat little narrative trick that allows Bioware to employ the usual RPG side quest tropes, but at the same time it also explores peoples reaction to a total war on this scale. It's just another facet that demonstrates the developer's singular storytelling and worldbuilding strengths. And the killer aspect: it's almost a throwaway line that many will simply miss. This is why I'm a only halfway through. I feel the need to take my time and savour every single moment I can. To live in this world, if one can indeed live with a 3D rendering of something that is not strictly speaking there.

On the gameplay front, Mass Effect follows the cover-based shooting action formula that was so well-refined between parts 2 and 3. While it generally plays second fiddle to the story, the action is meaty and fulfilling, mostly thanks to the redesigned sounds of the weapons. These now sound suitably futuristic and satisfying violent. Interspersed between the usual galleries of chest-high walls are some truly epic set pieces, including one that will no doubt stick in the minds of all who play it. Let's just say it involves a Reaper and something equally big and much angrier. The side quests, such as they are, are tied to the main story in every possible way, allowing players to flesh out the game as much as they wish. The mining mechanic has been replaced by something equally topical, which sees the Normandy recovering potential assets for the war effort as opposed to 2000 unites of palladium. Yet again, Bioware have taken one of their mechanics and have made it seemingly crucial to the conclusion of the tale they are telling.

And Mass Effect 3 is a conclusion. Like it or not, it's the end of the story as we know it. The game is the purest form of the series we know and love. It never feels like there is a moment wasted because they very rarely is. Whether it's a quiet chat where you break an asari's heart, or whether you're running for your life from a gigantic alien doom ray, Mass Effect 3 never fails to pull you into its world. If you haven't played the series up until this point, for the love of God buy the first two Mass Effects now and play all the way through. If you don't, you're missing out on one the finest if not THE finest science fiction epic of recent years.

- Jack Whelan

SSX

It's kind of hard to pinpoint the exact moment I realised I loved SSX. It may have been the first time I had to race down the pristine yet geometrically impossible slopes of the Rockies to the relentlessly feel good tunes of The Naked and Famous. It could have been the first time I totally smashed the record on a Trick It event. Or it could have been when I found out how much fun it is to carve out your own little niche in the global online competitions. Whatever the timing of it, I realised prior to writing this that I love SSX to an almost inappropriate extent. 

I may be slightly bias. The original PS2 SSX was the very first game I properly owned, as opposed to scabbing the odd afternoon or lunch break off my friends. I followed the franchise with gusto right up until SSX On Tour. The lack of a true current gen SSX has been a huge disappointment for me over the years, but luckily, patience prevailed. SSX is a delight to play, and a true successor to the pedigree it comes from.

The game can essentially be split into three self explanatory modes: Race It, Trick It and Survive It. The former play much as they always have. The latter is a new addition to the franchise that adds a very different dynamic to the game. Racing downhill at breakneck speed while attempting to avoid the myriad perils that assail you, whether they be rocks, trees or gravity itself, is exhilarating and not a little difficult. Survival Mode has drawn the most flak due to this aspect, but I find it refreshing that a mode can prove so trying in this current gaming epoch, where often you have to play on the hardest difficulty just to get a modicum of a challenge (I'm looking at you, Space Marine). It can be occasionally frustrating to pour 30 minutes into a single course, but it makes the victory so much sweeter. The soundtrack to the game has maybe a little too much offensively shite dubstep but is otherwise a perfect boarding collection. If you REALLY can't handle you're Skrillex, SSX allows you to make your own mix. In tandem with the survival mode, SSX has an avalanche (eh? eh?) of new toys. Wingsuits, armour, and headlamps are all required for certain matches, adding new mechanics to established modes. At times this can seem a bit gimmicky, but thankfully the game never gets buried in these

add ons. And besides, wingsuits are fucking cool. The multiplayer is perhaps where this game makes the biggest of its changes. Instead of traditional, lobby based races, the game allows you to set your times or scores on a level and then challenges your friends to beat them. At first, it gave me pause. The original SSX was a killer couch game that you and your buddies could sink hours into, as with any racing game. It was immediate, and it was fun. How could this new system be better. While it might not truly replace the on-the-spotness of the previous titles, it does drag SSX into the online era, and does it exceptionally well. It allows you to remain competitive with your friends while not actually being online. Logging on to find your buddy has smashed your score is all the incentive you need to drop an hour or two trying to claw it back. I speak from experience. The global aspect of the multiplayer has managed to craft a distinctive, and more importantly fun online community. Events can be bought into, or you can engage in free events too, although if you do you'll find yourself up against a Trick It score of 130,000,000, or a frankly inhuman downhill race time. This, combined with the ability to create and manage your own custom events means you can become a little or as involved with the community as you desire. EA have as usual drawn fire for their online pass scheme, with stores all the points you make online in a sort of digital vault until you're ready to pay up. With an online pass included in every new game however, this shouldn't prove too daunting unless you're dead set on getting it second-hand.

Despite all these changes, at it's heart this is still the SSX we know and love. It's still chock full of awesome moments. Tricking off a helicopter at the last minute in order to bump your score from silver to gold comes to mind. Its courses are a bit less wacky (anyone who's ever raced Tokyo Megaplex will understand) but no less thrilling and complex. Races are still frantic and tense, Trick Its are still gravity and physics defying in their awesomeness. It has been 9 years since the last properly good entry into the franchise, 2003's SSX 3. It finally feels like we're back on course, and it's never been sweeter. SSX is a truly delightful experience that reminds you how much pure fun you can have while gaming.

- Jack Whelan