If gamification and crowdsourcing are among the brightest buzzword stars at the moments, location-based gaming surely has to join the same constellation. Grey Area, a recently formed developer, is at the forefront of this movement with its game Shadow Cities that is set to launch internationally this summer, after having seen success throughout Finland and the US.
Like most MMORPG, you roam a virtual world, battling enemy players and structures, building up your skills by earning eXperience Points . It pits the Architects faction against the Animators and has you battling for territory across a vast virtual world. The trick is that this virtual world exactly replicates the real world, thanks to its use of Open StreetMap, and your location is determined by your real world location. You can jump to other areas of the world if your fellow players have setup beacons there but you're at your most powerful on home turf.
The basic game mechanic seems rather simple with most battles fought using basic touchscreen swipes and the game uses a very stark visual style, so you don't get quite the catharsis provided by the sword battles of Infinity Blade for instance but it's apparently proving popular and is free to play. Keep an eye out for its arrival on all iOS devices in the UK in a few weeks time.
Well, we could hardly write a piece about Finnish tech and gaming companies and not mention the company behind Angry Birds…
Despite most of us and (seemingly) our readers having long since completed most of the current Angry Birds games, the brand is apparently still seeing massive growth, and that's without it even making a dent in China yet – Rovio expects to have another 100m users from that territory at the end of the year. Sadly the arrival of Angry Birds 2, or an entirely new game, seems a long way off with the company more intent on broadening the Angry Birds brand into other areas. In a matter of weeks we'll see an Angry Birds cook book hitting shelves. It's chock full of egg-based recipes, though there's no chicken or pork. Ville Heijari, marketing head and 'Bird Whisperer' at Rovio, put this down to the idea that eggs are what bind the birds and pigs, which makes sense but it does some rather odd to so limit the scope of the book. Regardless, you'll soon be able to learn how to make Egg Sauce amongst other things.
Also on the horizon is Magic. Using NFC chips embedded in Angry Birds plush toys, this will let you add extra maps or earn other goodies by swiping your NFC enabled phone over them. A social version of the Angry Birds game is also being worked on, though there's no word on when this will arrive. If all goes to plan the company hopes to float on the stock market soon and current estimates see it fetching billions if it does so.
The company behind the smash hits Max Payne and Alan Wake recently diversified into mobile gaming with a reimagining of its old title, Death Rally. Just recently launched for iOS devices, it's a top down racing game featuring six tracks, a total of six hours game play and most crucially, the ability to equip your car with ridiculous weapons to try and slow your competitors down.
It's a lot of fun and looks great on the iPad 2 thanks to its use of antiailising throughout the game, something that is still very rare and greatly enhances the look. Also, thankfully it doesn't rely on silly tilt controls but instead uses proper onscreen ones. It's available now for a mere £0.59 and seems well worth a punt, though we'll be back with a full review shortly for the definitive verdict.
Remedy also confirmed it is working on a follow up to Alan Wake though it was totally tight lipped when it came to revealing any further details.