Categories: Phones, Smartphones, and PDAs
With the arrival of the much anticipated (and now infamous) iPhone 4 came a slew of "enhanced" or even specifically optimized titles for the new device. This makes sense, due to the many upgrades in the new hardware, including (but not limited to) the ridiculously high-res Retina Display to the new gyroscope.
Of course, gaming is where a lot of these enhancements will really come into their own, as is evident by titles such as Eliminate: Gun Range, which not only utilizes every pixel there is to be had but also incorporates the gyroscope for super-accurate tracking. You should check it out. But, this review is for Carcassonne - one of my favorite, if not my all-time favorite, games for the iOS platform - and it's especially juiced up for the iPhone 4.
What is Carcassonne?
Even the intro screen is gorgeous.
This fabulous game did not originate on the iPrecious. It's actually a board game designed by Klaus-Jurgen Wrede (a teacher and board game designer) that was published in 2000 by Hans im Gluck - a well known German card and board game producer.
Of course, being that I'm not up to date with the latest board game news, I had never heard of this before it was released for iDevices - but I'm so glad I did. At its core, Carcassonne is a tile-based strategy game for two to five players. The goal is to score the most amount of points, of course - and it's simultaneously simple and deeply complex.
The help screen is nicely done.
The beauty of this game is that it's extremely easy to play on the iPhone. If it's your first time, a warm-voiced British sounding voice actor will guide you through the basic tutorial, instructing you in the rules along the way. If you're too impatient to do this, the game includes a concise and nicely written help section that you can reference at any time.
Game in progress.
Every bit of the game from the menus to the gameplay is polished to a fine sheen, like a little jewel or a fine wristwatch. The Retina Display resolution is used to full effect here by the developers; the buttons sport fine beveled edges and shading, the tiles show exquisite detail, even the woodgrain playing surface gives you the vibe of really sitting down at the table to play. Even the sounds for each action, such as clicking a button, the "clack" of placing a Meeple (your playing pieces) or the gentle slide of tiles, are accurate and a pleasure to have in the game.
Simple to Learn, Hard to Master
I am quite the loser this time around.
Like many board and strategy games, the reason Carcassonne is so addictive is that there is a deeply complex strategy woven into a simple playing mechanism. Do I complete a city now to gain instant points, or do I risk building out a city longer but having my playing piece tied up, thus preventing me from scoring in the meantime? Do I want to concentrate on capturing fields or roads? In addition, the random nature of the game makes every single round interesting, engaging, and fresh. If you want to learn more details on how the game is played, click here.
I should also mention that on iOS 4, this app really shines. I was able to run Carcassonne in the background, while listening to my own music in the iPod, and read my RSS feeds and browse the web. Why would I do this? I was waiting for my online opponent to make moves, of course. This means that you can accomplish other things while knocking out a quick game - how cool!
So, have I piqued your interest yet? If you have even the slightest interest in board and/or strategy games, you need to download this title - now. It's $4.99 in the App Store, which can seem a bit steep, but given the level of polish here (especially on the iPhone 4) combined with infinite replay value and free online play, I think it's a fair price to pay. Truth be told, this is actually an "introductory" price; they plan on raising it again later this year, most likely when the iPad update is released. That being said, if you're interested, might be best to grab it now.
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Fueled by obscene amounts of coffee and a love for all things 8-bit and shiny, Pete wants to share his experiences with you. He'll try not to twitch and fidget too much, so as to not distract you from sharing his Apple vs. PC thoughts and comparisons, wistful yearning for a return to classic gaming, and focused spout-offs inspired by a life circling around computers, video games, and gadgets.