Star Wars: Imperial Academy
The Force was not strong with ngmoco when it made this free to play but disappointing App.
Successful companies eventually have a brain fart and release a terrible game. Case in point, ngmoco's Star Wars: Imperial Academy for Apple iOS. The developer behind such hits as Rolando and GodFinger partnered with THQ Wireless to produce an App that is without question one of the worst we've played. The fact that it's free means you won't lose anything, aside from precious time.
This is essentially Eliminate Pro, another ngmoco first person shooter, with a Star Wars skin. You play as one of the Empire's new recruits, charged with proving your worth at the Imperial Academy through four person deathmatches. The more you play, the more credits and key cards you acquire that let you buy new weapons and equipment. You can earn those the hard way by grinding through tons of multiplayer matches, or fork over some dough to buy packs of key cards that the game lets you trade in for credits; key cards also come in handy during play, where you use them on supply droids to unlock power-ups. Want 30 key cards? That'll cost $4.99. Want 800? Prepare to drop a whopping $49.99.
The idea is to level up and use the best gear to achieve an advantage on the battlefield, which is fine. Eliminate operates the same way and became insanely popular. We'll even give ngmoco credit for the online play. Not only is it easy to find a match, but matches also begin in seconds across all Apple iOS devices. Impressive. Most impressive.
That said, we cannot say the same for the horrendous controls that make Imperial Academy borderline unplayable. What you have are two virtual sticks (one for movement and one for aiming) that don't work well together. As a result, it's nearly impossible lining up a shot on anyone. As a result, players constantly strafe back and worth unloading laser beams that more often than not miss their intended targets. It's quite maddening.
Meanwhile, the game looks atrocious. It's obvious that ngmoco used the same engine from Eliminate Pro and it definitely shows it age, with bland environments and characters that sport little detail. Not even familiar locations from the movies (Hoth, Cloud City) can save it; why the developer chose to include two Cloud City locations escapes us.
It's a shame, because the concept of a Star Wars FPS on the iPad or iPhone sounds like a phenomenal idea, but it's clear that ngmoco didn't put its best effort into making Imperial Academy a quality experience. If you're curious, the game's free, but don't expect to enjoy it.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.
What's Hot: Free to download, speedy load times, you can play as Boba Fett.
What's Not: Horrendous controls, lackluster graphics, expensive key cards.