FGR – 23rd April 2011 – Knight’s Story (painfully charming), Auto Hustle (painfully juvenile) and NBA Dynasty

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… Knight’s Story

Heroes of Might and Magic is one of those games that I’ve always wanted to enjoy more than I do (and I do enjoy it!). One of my favourite games as a child was Lords of Magic back in 1997. That game was massive, something I’d never really experienced before. Until then, I was playing side-scrolling shooters, Bubble Bobble, Rainbow Islands and Zool. Lords of Magic was a turn based strategy game that has everything I loved. Heroes that level up, building armies, exploring worlds (and dungeons) and defeating everyone else! I still love all that gameplay! When I discovered that Lords of Magic was a bit of a flop (it was buggy as hell), I was disappointed. I loved the idea of playing on of these games online, but they took so long! It seemed like a type of video game that was destined to never evolve or become popular. Without going off on too much of a nostalgic tangent, Heroes of Might and Magic is very similar to Lords of Magic, and Knight’s Story reminds me a lot of what HoM&M would be like if it it was on Facebook. At least from the first 10 mins of play!

.

Knight's Story - It's very charming

.

In Knight’s Story, you play a cartoony knight in a cartoony world. There are aspects to the game; Exploration, Castle-Building and Combat. With Exploration, you are given a map, covered in fog of war. You have to navigate the grid, spending energy to discover various objects that you can search for loot. While exploring, you also meet quest givers and can perform simple quests. These quests give you items with which to build your Castle. So far I’ve only built 2 buildings (the Key Maker and the Town Hall), which are built with energy initially, then you must find resources to complete them (through the Exploration and quests). Combat was introduced briefly just now, a simple turn based affair (click attack to attack… there aren’t even any abilities yet).

It’s very simple but Knight’s Story is very charming! The animations and art is adorable and it just feels great to play, especially compared to Zombie Lane which also has good art but it just feels a bit unfinished. Knight’s Story feels polished and I applaud Anute (the developer) for this. Zynga’s CityVille has really set the bar high for aesthetics in Facebook games, quite rightly so too!

.

My baby blue knight. Ice cold!

Eww? I hope there are prettier damsels to help out later on!

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

What I especially like about Knight’s Story is that it doesn’t hold your hand all the time. The simplicity and intuitiveness of the game is all that is necessary. You have a big world map to explore and you kinda just make your own way around areas, completing tasks in the order you want to. I’m guessing once I’ve completed all the tutorials, you’ll be completely free to explore whatever you want! Very refreshing in a world of games which try to force you into certain actions.

One thing Digital Chocolate can learn from Knight’s Story is that they give you a bunch of energy items at the start. Lots of games do this (mainly through energy-refilling level ups), but Zombie Lane seemed to try and halt your progression (forcing you to spam friends in the first 5 minutes). Knight’s Story hasn’t really asked me to invite anyone yet. They even ensure you get lots of the ‘rare’ items you need to complete buildings (it’s rigged in a good way), so you know that they will ask you to ask a friend eventually… but for now you can figure out if you like the game yet enough to invite someone. I love this, this is what social games should be like. You wouldn’t recommend a movie after seeing 5 minutes of it, so why do so many games want you to hassle your friends with essentially the same thing?!

I’ve got 1 or 2 ‘fake’ friends on my Facebook account, for gaming purposes. I actually thought that one of them might like this game, so I invited them to the game without even being asked! I hope that when I’m designing social games, I can encourage this sort of behaviour… instead of cramming it down peoples’ throats.

.

Combat even simpler than Pokemon... and I'm still complimenting this game?!

Buildings require materials to complete. Unlike Zombie Lane, I don't have to farm for 3 days in a rigged-against-me "Invite your friends or STOP HAVING FUN!" kinda way.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

It’s rare that I’ve actually looked forward to playing a Facebook game each day (I had that once in Zombie Lane, when I finally saw some progression!), but I really do want to see everything there is to offer in Knight’s Story.

.

Daily Review

NBA Dynasty

Same old, same old. Played some games, realized I’d lost about 60 over night (which sucked) and then found out you can’t turn off the sound! Come on, Playdom! You’re one of the big dawgs in social games and you haven’t got a mute button?! Social games often run in the background, I don’t wanna hear the same repetitive crappy music over and over again when I’m trying to listen to Amon Amarth.

.

Auto Hustle

Did a couple of missions. I’m starting to realize that this game is like an extremely barebones version of Grand Theft Auto. Barebones activities (you can only shoot things, pick up crates or drive cars), barebones missions (kill things or blow up cars…) and some disgustingly barebones narrative… seriously. Every mission is about killing things. I had to kill some cops today, to get this guy’s friend out of jail. I had to just kill a random cop. Then blow up his car. Then kill the sheriff. At the end I was granted a cut scene, which was nice…

.

Apparently blowing up police stations is real easy these days...

.

The next set of missions was for the guy who just broke out of jail. He’s a comic book writer (apparently cops hate Batman or something) and his rival is selling more copies than him. So guess what? You have to kill him! Then, when you’ve killed the writer, his ‘Enraged geek fans‘ (their words!) need to be killed. What comic book reading geeks walk around with guns? What comic book geeks would kill people in the street?!

I suppose I’m in a cynical mood, but Auto Hustle seems painfully juvenile. It’s hard to say I like the violent theme and how mature Facebook games are a good thing, when the only standard bearer for this kind of innovation is a 13 year old boy with a fetish for snuff.

.

.

.

Sam

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: