FGR – April 15th 2011 – Tetris Battles, Zombie Lane and a lack of wine…

Welcome to the Facebook Game Review! In this daily series (except perhaps on the weekends), I will be looking at, sharing my thoughts and giving verdicts on the hottest and coldest entrants to the Social Gaming ring. Each post will feature a new game, an update on existing ones, and a final score.

Introducing… Tetris Battle

I’ve gotta get one thing out there before I start… I hate Tetris. It’s just one of those games that I’ve never, ever enjoyed! I’m not a big puzzle gaming fan in general, but I always found Tetris boring as hell. It’s so repetitive! One thing I did like was the alternate music. In fact, there are only 2 puzzle games I’ve ever enjoyed; Portal (Portal 2 coming out in 4 days!) and Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (SPF2T)

Tetris Battle is basically SPF2T but using Tetris instead of the awesome gem bomb puzzle system thingy that Capcom used. I do love the concept though. Puzzle games against other people = a good idea. Puzzle games are designed to challenge your brain, to make you think “I’m a really intelligent dude”. What better than to actually put your brain into the ring and see it battle another one? Then you’re not just kidding yourself, alone in a room playing Bejewelled for the last 6 hours… you intelligent bastard.

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Tetris but cutesy - Who cant this appeal to?

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What I like about Tetris Battles is that it is a real game and there isn’t much else to it! The shop features items to let you play more (energy, the bane of my life) and little cosmetic flourishes you can add to your blocks. There isn’t some tacked on house decoration feature or any crap you don’t need. Overall, it looks quite nice. They made it all cutesy and stuff, so that girls and women find even more reason to play a puzzle game. The sound is also pleasant and not too invasive.

There is one major thing I just can’t figure out…. are you really playing against other people? At the start of a battle, you have to click ‘Start’ and it always starts the game the second I click! If there was another person on the other end, I’d expect a delay for them to click it. I tested this too, I waited for like 5 minutes in the game lobby… nothing happened. A player didn’t leave or the game didn’t say ‘Sorry you were waiting too long’. At the moment it appears that the competition is an illusion. Those dastardly devils!

I’m crap at Tetris and I haven’t lost yet, I’m starting to doubt that you’re actually competing in real time. If this is the case, then I take back ALL the praise I just gave Tetris Battles! I’ll update you tomorrow on any more thoughts. This one is actually looking like a decent addition to the Facebook game market.

Daily Review

Zombie Lane

Well the typical shady dealings of social games are beginning to emerge in Zombie Lane. I’m still trying to repair my house for my wife, but the drop rate for the final part of the house (out of 4) is just crazy low. I’m getting plenty of parts I already have, but not the final piece to complete the quest. This isn’t random chance, this stinks of “YOU HAVE TO INVITE YOUR FRIENDS TO PLAY THE GAME!” This tactic never works on me, it just leaves distaste in my mouth.

One cool thing I did notice was that there’s a 3rd resource. There are coins and there is energy (there are also bricks but I haven’t really seen them do much to be honest), in addition there is ‘food’. Energy in Facebook games is usually only purchasable with real money. Food is a social resource, which you gain from visiting friends and helping them out. The more friends you have, the more food you have and therefore the more energy you get. All social games have the ‘Pay us or give us free advertising’ mechanic, but this is the first time that I’ve seen a completely free version of it. If you have enough friends, you never have to pay for Zombie Lane.

You can also ‘Hire’ friends for gold. This basically lets you click another resource when you don’t have the energy to click it. Trading in-game currency for more energy. It’s kinda cool I suppose, but trading 200g for about 6g and 2XP isn’t really a good deal. Perhaps it improves later on.

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Wine Guru

Something is up with everyone’s favourite Argentinian vineyard simulation! It’s offline or something. I can’t get in!

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Sam

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