Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ideas for the unemployed masochist

Since Susan got her iPad, she's been disturbingly drawn in to the insidious world of online gaming. Not gambling, mind - she's not that gullible - but those massively multiplayer thingies.

Some of these are fun, some are harmless, some are free. But some are none of these things.

Valor officially sucks. It draws you in by looking like a city-building game, but then turns out to be a strategy/warfare game in which there is no real opportunity to practice strategy. If you're one of the first into a new world, and if you've got absolutely nothing else to do with your time (e.g. sleeping) for the next month, you win. That's all there is to it.

Unless you fall victim to the frequent data losses and corruptions in the publisher's database, that is. Then you're just screwed. And good luck getting support when that happens. So having taken your (real) money to buy (imaginary) things, the game quietly and unapologetically proceeds to lose those "things". And there's no refund.

In game terms, the whole thing has been tweaked to make it hard to leave alone for a few hours. You'd think, for instance, a 40-foot high, 15-foot thick city wall with turrets would provide some rudimentary defence against being raided. But no, the attackers just leap blithely over it, taking trivial losses that contrast markedly with the resources needed to build the damn' thing in the first place. So basically, unless you're willing to stay online, there's no way to defend your city.

If only there were some way to identify these games up front... But most online reviews are written by raving enthusiasts or professional astroturfers. So here's a counterpoint, and I hope it shows up when people search for 'valor ipad'.

Two stars, only because it took me more than a couple of days to figure out how much it sucks.

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