Apps: Gangstar Vegas, Man of Steel, Photo Cube WiFi 3.59 + Play-Doh Create ABCs
Gangstar Vegas ($7) is the latest installment in Gameloft’s Gangstar series. Like earlier Gangstar titles, it’s a sandbox-style action and driving game in the Grand Theft Auto mold, letting you walk, fight, steal cars, and fire weapons across multiple missions. This edition notably includes an impressive rendition of Las Vegas, featuring renamed versions of many of the famous Strip hotels, including the pyramid-like Luxor, Treasure Island, and Wynn. Within minutes of starting the game, you get to experience an updated melee fighting engine complete with kickboxing moves, a vehicular gun and rocket launcher battle on the strip, and the use of several different kinds of vehicles. Amazingly detailed human character models have some of the most realistic faces we’ve seen in any iOS title, and like the GTA series, full voice acting and radio-like music selections are included.
Man of Steel ($3) by Warner Bros. was released last week, just before the movie of the same name hit theaters. Developed by Phosphor Games — and unfortunately sold in separate iPad (HD) and iPhone/iPod versions — Man of Steel finds Superman getting into a series of one-on-one fights with opponents from the film, as well as other characters. The graphics engine is pretty impressive, with nice character models, textures, and destructible 3-D backgrounds that Superman can punch enemies through, but the gameplay is somewhat shoddy. Simple swipe and dodge controls make for fights that are like neutered versions of Infinity Blade battles, interrupted every time Superman hurls an opponent backwards through the air. Despite some impressive touches, Man of Steel feels rushed and not entirely satisfying.
Vupoint Solutions has updated Photo Cube WiFi (free), the app that works with the company’s Photo Cube Wi-Fi IPWF-P30-VP printer. Version 3.59 includes a firmware upgrade that makes the printer more usable. The app sends photos from iOS devices to the printer via Wi-Fi. Issues plagued the app previously, but those mostly appear to have been solved now; we’d recommend a reset of the app after the firmware finishes installing. Users still experiencing issues should note that multiple iOS apps do work with the printer, so another solution could be found if Vupoint’s app continues to struggle.
PlayDate Digital’s Play-Doh Create ABCs ($3) uses virtual Play-Doh to helps kids learn skills for reading and writing. The app impressively combines alphabet writing lessons with object-building, such that after you learn to draw the letter A, you can assemble an Alligator from pieces of Play-Doh, choosing colors for each part — something kindergarten-aged kids will love. Play-Doh Create ABCs provides nice voice guidance for the activities, but suffers a bit from overly strict and not necessarily intuitive finger placement requirements during the letter writing section, as well as initial setup prompts that pre-K kids might not understand without adult assistance. Play-Doh is used quite nicely in the activities, though the game does feel at times like it’s overly heavy on branding advertisements. A little extra polish could make this even more appealing to both parents and kids.
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