Friday, 11 May 2012

Temple Run [ANDROID REVIEW]

The big mobile action sensation is great for a bit of fun - if only the control issues didn't prevent me from getting my teeth into it.


What's It All About?
Action game based on that scene from Indiana Jones - you know, where he's running out of that temple - only this time it's not a big boulder and instead you're being chased by a pack of demon monkeys. 

While escaping these satanic simians, you have to dodge various obstacles. Swipe up to jump over tree roots, swipe down to slide under fallen trees, swipe left/right to turn. Tilt your phone left and right to fine aim where you are running.

As you speed away through an increasingly-cluttered environment, you can pick up bonuses which make things a bit easier. These have effects such as boosting through a section of the level or removing all obstacles.

If your reflexes are about you, there is the opportunity to collect floating coins - these unlock extra characters or can improve your bonuses - and it'll take quite a few runs to earn enough to make a difference.

The levels you run through each time are randomly-generated, meaning that every run is slightly different - there's plenty of challenge and playability on offer here.

Bolting out of the temple at top speed - here's the ginger hero.

So Is It Any Good Then?
+++ Intense +++
I'm not sure exactly what it is - whether I find the crazed monkeys genuinely scary, or whether the action is just really intense - but I am really running for my life when I pick up Temple Run. The feeling of non-stop danger is really quite a motivator - when you start a game you see your explorer guy running out of the temple with the monkeys hot on his heels - and that's it. There doesn't need to be a big backstory - no need to characterise the character or the villains - just a simple task: run for your fucking life.

When I got to the youlater stages, with obstacles coming thick and fast, the pressure to keep going and beat my previous highscore meant that I was really getting into the action. I let out a loud sigh of disappointment every time I collided with a sneaky tree (so often that the neighbours must have thought it was fairly downbeat sex) - and that goes to show how successful the game is. When you unconsciously vocalise your annoyance with a game - just because you were 1000 points off your top score - then the addiction has very much set in. Well done, Temple Run.

Your path starts off simple - as shown above - but soon gets really tough.

+++ Lots of Appeal +++
The game wasn't just built for a few intense bursts though - the random landscape and real challenge on offer means that perfecting your Indy act can be a real time-sink. Beating your best score is good - beating your best distance run is another bit of fun - but upgrading the bonuses and going for that MASSIVE run is the big dream.

When you spend coins on the bonuses, you normally just get to boost a few hundred metres further or to unlock bigger coin pick-ups - but in making use of them while playing, you can turn a quick jog into a big-scoring marathon.

There's also some extra character models to unlock (and wallpapers and shit) but really it's improving the run that matters in the game - and that was my main motivator throughout. Just as it should be.

There's very little time between jumping, turning and sliding when you get to later levels -
but that's where I get stuck :-(

--- Lack of Control ---
But then at later stages in the game I found a gameplay barrier that I could not get past. When I got to about 2000 metres, the lack of sensitivity in my phone's touch screen changed from being " a bit annoying" to actually stopping me from getting any further.

The problem is this - as my phone's screen is slightly insensitive (it needs a bit of pressure in order to register a press) then to get the character to move I need to give a big, hard swipe right across the screen. At slower speeds, this isn't a problem - I just casually swipe left/right/up/down to progress. When it gets to the later stages, where you need to jump, dodge and slide a couple of times a second - then it gets to the point where I just can't make those exaggerated movements and I quickly lose.

Small nudges to jump etc. (which I have seen other people using to beat the game) just do not work on older/crapper touchscreens. Now that could be used as a reason to look for a new phone - so really, as not all phones are brand new/top-of-the-range, this should have been planned for. When you make a game for mobiles, it should suit all mobiles. 

Perhaps some extra control settings to tailor the experience for older phones (NOT the "sensitivity" setting as this only  changes the motion-sensitive controls).

Really, with some small tweaks then this would have been a near-perfect action game. As it stands, I can only get around 2,500 metres and no further - so I stopped playing. Shame.

Conclusions
Without a doubt - one of the most intense experiences on a handheld.

I accept that some of my complaints relate to issues with my phone - but as that is the hardware the game was built for the developers really should have accounted for that.

With a few tweaks to the control system - or maybe a new phone - then this could easily have kept me going for many weeks.


Feel free to post comments or contributions to improve the experience!
Any stock images in this review are subject to relevant copyrights and are kindly provided by: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.imangi.templerun&hl=en 
All game screenshots were taken in-game using a HTC Nexus One and were taken by Brighton Games Trader.

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