Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Aurora Feint The Beginning

Aurora Feint The Beginning (or AFB) is a free app that is downloadable in the App Store now. AFB is a puzzle style RPG in which you can collect crystals and use them to "smith" new abilities and learn new spell books. AFB is similar to most popular puzzle games (Bejeweled 2, Trism, etc.) in that it incorporates different colored squares that you have to match up in sets of three. The blocks represent different elements and they slowly rise towards the top. When you get too close to the top, the blocks start to rattle in that column or row. You move the blocks with the touch screen on the iPod and iPhone. Unlike Bejeweled, you can move blocks across the entire row they are in. You can even slide blocks off the edge of another block if you are getting too high or you see a move. But there are also some bad parts of AFB, but majority rules so the good points are going first.

1. Controls: The controls on this game are simply amazing. You may think "how can a puzzle game have amazing controls?". Your answer lies in the accelerometer. The accelerometer is fully used in the controls in that you can play in either portrait or landscape modes. The gravity shifts when you move from one view to another so it can be used to your strategic advantage. If you see a move but a some other block hinders the way, you can shift views to work around that obstacle. A true strategic player will constantly be shifting from portrait to landscape and back again. The controls might be the winning feature of this app.
2. Graphics: I can honestly say that the graphics are very polished in terms of the blocks. The blocks are what you will be looking at most of the game, so it is very important that they look good. It may seem odd that I'm praising a puzzle game for its graphics, but they look very polished and sharp. 
3. Gameplay: Like I mentioned earlier, the gameplay is phenomenal. The controls really help this by having the ability to shift the board and the ability to move blocks across entire rows. This brings the gameplay over Bejeweled in the fact that Bejeweled can only move block up or down or across one space. Also, there is no adjustable gravity in Bejeweled, so that also helps AFB. You will be spending 95% of your time in the smith or mining (both are forms of the same type of puzzle) and thus the rest of the game doesn't need to have much gameplay. 
4. Challenge: There are some complicated challenges you have to complete other than the unlimited puzzle. In these challenges you must complete sets of 3 of each block type listed at the top, with each set earning 3 blocks. I tried one of the easier challenges and it gets hard with the time limit and lack of the needed blocks appearing. This makes for a fun and challenging game.
5. Free: It's free. What can I say?

The Bad

1. Laggy: AFB does get laggy at times, but this is normally translated to a block that just is stuck at the enlarged state moving blocks puts them in. This is fixed the second you move another block so this isn't really a problem for me. 
2. "False Claims": The developers of AFB claimed to have a RPG type puzzle game. I haven't noticed much RPG type anything other than the store and inventory, neither of which affects a person's character. The only real RPG part is at the beginning when you choose either the moose or elf. I haven't noticed any other involvement of your chosen character except maybe a 1.1x multiplier instead of a 1.0x the other character had. 

As you can see, AFB is one of the best free apps, if not the best, to be in the App Store. Though some wonder why it's free. Is it just to suck gamers into the AF franchise? I think this is our answer and I believe that more AF games are coming. But at a cost. Enjoy this while you can folks, because this may be slapped with a price tag once the developers realize how successful this app is. 


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