XCOM: Dangers of Ports

Over the weekend I purchased and downloaded XCOM Enemy Unknown for my iPad. As I’ve already mentioned I’ve been enjoying some quality gaming on the little device since picking it up a couple of weeks ago, with Hearthstone and FTL taking up most of my attention.

I then came across XCOM on the App Store and instantly remembered how much I enjoyed it on the PC when it came out. I’d forgotten that it had come out for iOS as when it was initially released I figured it wouldn’t be that great playing it on a small iPhone screen. The iPad though, now that could work. Next thing I know, I’ve got it downloading.

The listing on the App Store made it crystal clear that this was a very ‘big’ game for the iPad, so all other apps must be closed so that the processor and RAM can give it’s complete undivided attention to XCOM. When I first booted the game up I was greeted with a little notice, saying I should consider rebooting my iPad before playing. Prffftt, I thought, it’ll work fine.

It didn’t. As the first mission almost finished loading it crashed back to the home screen. 3 to 4 attempts later and I came to realise they were kidding that it was a very intensive game for the iPad. So I went and restarted the iPad at last and then booted the game…

Success! It worked! They were right!

After enjoying the first mission at long last I thought I’d have a look online to see if I could find any advice off the internet of a way to play the game without restarting my iPad every time. Turns out you can’t, it’s a known bug. The comments on the App Store (which I didn’t read before buying) were full of people complaining about the amount of crashing.

Now, I could email Apple and demand my cash back. I know it would probably work better on an iPad 4, or even the Mini 2, but the game’s listing says it works on the Mini…so surely I’d be within my rights to get a refund. The thing is though, even though I’ve only managed one mission so far, it reminded me of how much I enjoyed playing it first time round, and you know what, crashing aside, it’s a brilliant port of XCOM. OK so the graphics have dipped a little, to be expected, but from what I’ve seen so far everything else has remained intact and the touch controls work perfectly. So I’m going to put up with the crashing. Who knows, it may eventually stop crashing thanks to future updates.

XCOM shows that the iPad can (sort of) handle full-blown ports of popular console and PC titles, albeit with some difficulties it would seem. I hope this doesn’t put off other developers from bringing console ports to iOS.

iPad Goodness

A couple of weeks ago I decided to finally pick up an iPad. Based on how much I’ve used it since, I’d probably say it’s been well worth the purchase.

My close friends will know (also see my last post) that I’m a tad hooked on Hearthstone, the new game from card game from Blizzard. I’d be lying if I said Hearthstone didn’t have an impact on whether or not to go ahead and buy the Apple tablet, although it wasn’t the only reason. I’d been on the fence and picking one up for a while, Hearthstone just tipped the balance.

For pure portability (and also based on the price) I went for an iPad Mini. While I’m sure it’s not quite as fast as the latest bigger screen iPads it works an absolute treat!

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I’ve also treated myself to FTL (Faster than Light), a story driven turn based game set in the depths of space as you have to take command of a space ship. Almost every review I saw online gave it glowing ratings. From choosing your path through the various space systems, battling alien vessels and managing your crew, FTL keeps you busy. During various stages of the game you’ll come across choices, such as saving planets and chasing down pirates. It’s visuals, while a little simplistic, are vibrant and fun. It does get quite challenging, but this is a title that encourages quick play throughs and replayability. If your unfortunate enough to get your ship destroyed you’ll be greeted by a high score so that you have a target to aim for next time you restart. I’ve not managed to get very far during my two play throughs so far, but I’ll be returning to it very soon. The iPad version comes complete with extra DLC that you can activate, although I think that content is aimed at the more experienced players so I haven’t tried it out yet.

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I don’t think I’ve played quite enough of it yet to write an actual review, however I’d recommend it to all iPad owners. It is pricey, but I feel the £6.99 price tag is justified, no in game purchases here.