I love gaming. I also love browsing the internet. Sometimes I like to do those things at the same time. Many newer games have borderless windowed mode built in. If you don’t know what that is, it is a setting that allows you to put a game in full screen while treating it like a windowed program, which allows you to go between windows a lot smoother. Sometimes using ALT-TAB with a native full screen game can cause lag or, worse, leave the game unresponsive. If that is the case, using the internet (or any other program) at the same time as a game becomes very difficult.
This week is Computer Science Education Week, a time to spread the word to kids everywhere that computer science is a subject worth learning. Code.org encourages teachers to host an Hour of Code for kids to learn the very basics of programming in one hour — no experience necessary. I am excited to be hosting several events at my local libraries. Here’s where the review comes in: for the event, you can choose from several different activities. I choose for the kids to use a game called Code Combat, which is what this post is all about. Here’s the catch: instead of getting to play the game, they help make it.
Editors Note: This post comes from Tanner Bivens of tannerreviews.com. He reviews movies and games on his site. He also hosts The Nerdiest Talk Show on Earth every week.
Good day everyone. I’m not sure if you have noticed from the title or not, but I am not in fact Free App Maven writer Shaila Meeker. In fact, our dear Shaila has taken a trip to Florida with her fiance Brandon and will be gone this week, effectively leaving me in Ohio hell as she enjoys Disney World. I will try to contain my levels of jealousy to mere quiet resentment. But while she is enjoying the nice weather and fun rides, she asked me if I could guest write on her site while she is away, to which I was more than happy to do. For those of you who have not visited my site tannerreviews.com, I am a film critic and a video game enthusiast. If you do not know of my site you should go and visit it. It is an awesome site! I should know, it is mine after all.
But when Shaila asked me to write a review for her site, I was at first a little out of sorts. I do not use apps very frequently… Or at least not nearly enough as she does. So after given the assignment, I rushed to my phone to go through several apps to see what would be a good one to review and after several possibles, I decided to choose a free game for the iPhone 4s called Pocket Starships. It certainly was an interesting game to say the least. A kind of cream of the crop out of a plethora of boring games and money gauging apps. So I downloaded it and decided to give it a go. After playing it for a bit, I have to say for an iPhone game… Not that bad. I was expecting much much worse when I downloaded it, but instead I found myself pleasantly surprised.
There isn’t a lot in the way of plot when it comes to Pocket Starship. Well okay, there is a little bit of one, but it is one that can quickly be brushed aside as you button mash the text crawl away. Essentially, when you first boot up the game you are given the choice to join one of two factions, the Shard or the Varins. One second in and already you are given a choice that will change your experience forever!… Well not really, I gave both games a go by downloading, uninstalling, and trying again (I’m sure there was an easier way don’t judge me) and both are for the most part the same. After a quick tutorial you are thrust into this new world where you must complete quests for your given alliance all the while battling your arch nemesis faction in various locations marked by a hexagonal map, some owned by one faction, some by the other, and a little area where players can congregate and blow each other to pieces.
When I was first asked to write a game app review, I was groaning. Most app games are notorious for micro-transactions and ‘buy to win’ content. I was expecting to download a ‘free’ game and then immediately be told to shell out a dollar or fifty cents in order to gain cool new weapons and a second level that would be physically impossible to complete unless you shell out said dollar or fifty cents… But no I was very surprised to see that when it comes to the overall game, the micro-transactions are practically invisible. You can play this game comfortably knowing that you will not hit a giant pay wall in between hunting down evil pirates and refining your ore to create new and better gadgets and considering this website is dedicated to free apps, this a huge plus to the game.
For a free to play game app… This game is expansive. The playing area is set up in a grid like system, some owned by the Shard, some owned by the Varins, and then a small area where players can take on each other. Each one of course has a futuristic type of name as to be expected and you can travel from location to location and fight baddies with your group of friends who you are supposed to coerce into playing (we will get to that soon). I was not expecting a tiny app game on a phone to be as expansive as some PS3 games that I have had the misfortune of playing in the past. An excellent and surprising addition.
It’s an MMO
For anyone who follows my site, you will know how I feel about MMOs. Just watch my debate with my friend Jate Nott to understand my dislike of them. This is an MMOG and as such the main way the game gets more people to play is making most missions near impossible to complete on your own. The game even encourages you to create mission forces of multiple people to go on these missions so you don’t get completely annihilated. Now of course you can join complete strangers to compete in missions. But for the most part what the game is saying is, ‘Get your friends to play this game, MORE PEOPLE! MORE PEOPLE!’ I can understand the reason they did this which is why it doesn’t really fit into the ‘Con’ category. But it is something that should be noted if you wish to pick up this game, get a friend to join in or just go with Angry Birds.
I don’t know what I was expecting from a game that I can play on my iPhone. But the majority of this game seems to be nothing but busy work. It is a go to location, aim your laser at the ship and wait until your or it blows up. Either that or mining and refining your ore to create new weapons and objects which both require little other than pushing the touch pad in a given direction until the thing disappears. When you are not doing either of those, you are in the space station button mashing a little bit more. It is a lot of busy work on top of busy work that can wear on a player quick.
Overall, this is one of the better app games that I have seen. The graphics are surprisingly good, the world is expansive, and you get to be the captain of your own damn starship! Granted my dislike for MMOGs is personal so I do not hold that against the game and the busy work game play is a small price to pay for a game that is a refreshing change of pace from play to win games and Angry Bird clones. If you are looking for a fun title to kill some time, download this one. You will not be disappointed.
Final Score 3.5/5
Thank you for reading fans of Free App Maven and if you would like to read more from me, please visit my website tannerreviews.com.