by Staff Writer
November 9, 2009
UpdateHarbor Havoc's 1.1 update was released relatively quickly. When I first looked at the game, my main concern was that the game took awhile to get into the fun heavy duty action. Backflip Studios has fixed that by adding a fast forward button for 2 and even 3 times speed. This really amps up the gameplay right from the first vehicle. A save system is still lacking, but the games go buy so quick it doesn't really matter. The fast forward button alleviated the boredom so it's fun all the time. The four maps in 3D where you direct traffic on multiple levels is unmatched in the path drawing genre, and the fast forward button pushes this game to the top at the very least tied with Harbor Master, 33rd Division, and Aqua Globs. If you're a pth drawing fan there is no shortness of fun to be had. Still new maps as well as connectivity features are always warranted as the other games push them out. Harbor Havoc 3D has the best gameplay of the bunch, so it's an absolute must for $0.99.
OverviewHarbor Havoc 3D is a brand new take on line drawing games. It's from Backflip Studios, the developers of Paper Toss and Ragdoll Blaster. The first new feature is the entire game is in 3D which no other line drawing game has. This gives the ability to control vehicles on multiple levels. In Harbor Havoc you will be able to play Harbor Master, and Flight Control at the same time. On one level you guide boats, planes, and subs all on the same playfield, but like any vehicles they can crash. Can you manage Harbor Havoc?
FeaturesHarbor Havoc 3D has four different maps at launch, with the fourth one as unlockable. The first map is easy which is just docking boats. The next map is Atlantis where you guide subs, and rovers that are each on separate levels. Next map is the Arctic which provides boats, helicopters, and subs with three levels to play on. The fourth map is a lighthouse that is just docking boats again, but the screen is black except for the rotating sliver of light from the lighthouse. Maybe the best feature is the inclusion of Ngmoco’s Plus+ network. With it there are online high scores for each map, tons of achievements, and the ability to challenge someone. Also you can brag about your score on twitter and facebook.
The GoodHarbor Havoc 3D builds upon the simple line drawing game, and adds multiple levels. The gameplay of guiding helicopters and boats, and also subs all at the same time is absolutely fun, and implemented nicely. When something new is coming in you have to see the type of vehicle to know whether or not it will interfere with your nearby guided vehicles. The 3D visuals are simply amazing, and really “stand out” compared to other line drawing games. The design of the all of the different vehicles is wonderful, and the trail behind the ships is great to see too, from the boat's trail to bubbles behind the subs. Maybe the neatest visual's feature is that when ships collide there is a high explosion, showing the devastation you have caused. Other games just light the colliders in red. A deluxe sound track that fits in perfectly for the area is included for each map. As good as the sound tracks are, the sound effects are terribly annoying. The honking when ships are close is terrible sounding that makes me frustrated rather than alerting me. Also when you click, and drag it is a loud distracting click tap of boat and release on harbor. The inclusion of Plus+ really makes this game worth it. Online high scores are wonderful, and being able to directly push challenge scores is great. The achievements are even better that include reaching certain scores for each of the maps, having a certain number of vehicles on screen, and even causing multiple crashes. The Lighthouse level is simply amazing in its difficulty. It is fabulous guiding ships in the dark, with your only light source a small sliver of light that rotates around. Nothing even comes close to compare, and it may be the most frustrating thing on the iPhone, and that's a good thing.
The BadA few flaws keep this game from being top notch. The first is that the game may just be too easy. It’s like Flight Control rather than Harbor Master which isn’t a good thing. Harbor Master provides the challenge of docking, and then guiding back off screen which always keeps you concentrated on the action. Flight Control and Harbor Havoc 3D just requires you to guide vehicles in, and then they disappear once docked. It shares the slow moving nature of Flight Control too. I have to play Flight Control on at least the first fast forward, and then it just is boring. Harbor Havoc 3D doesn’t even have a fast forward button. Everything just moves so slowly. Though once you get to around 50 or 60 it truly is Harbor Havoc, and it is extremely engaging. My concern is that you'll get lost before you get there. Also making the game easy is that you can tap on any vehicle to anchor it, like the mechanic from 33rd Division. If you’re ever in a tight fix, just dock a couple vehicles until it's clear for them to go again. Easiness also comes from the fact that when you tap on a boat the corresponding colored Harbor lights up, so no thinking there either. Even in pitch blackness on the Lighthouse level, the Harbor lights up. The game may not be easy meaning you will just rack up the points, and never feel challenged. It’s easy in that it’s not engaging, and rather boring. Every single time I lost, it was around 50-85, and because I had a ship moving along the edge of the screen, and a new ship came in, and collided. The game just lulls you to sleep in its simplicity, and you’re not attentive enough not to make these silly errors. It just takes a while to get into the game where it gets good. The only level that breaks this mold is the light house level, which is the most difficult line drawing level I’ve ever done anywhere, as discussed in The Good. My biggest problem though, is the lack of an adequate save system. I said Harbor Master may be the best pick up and play game, and perfect for portability, as it has super quick load times, and a save system picking up in the exact spot you left off. If you exit Harbor Havoc 3D for whatever reason, your progress isn’t saved, the only thing the game stores is your high score. Once you start a game you feel as though you have to finish it in this sitting, and that becomes noticeable as you progress. Some games I delve into, and never look at my score, or think about how long I’ve been playing. Sadly Harbor Havoc doesn’t provide this same atmosphere, and you can’t exit and resume if you’re feeling a little bored. As line drawing games compete, we win with new features. Bluetooth multiplayer is the new feature, that Harbor Havoc 3D doesn’t have though it came after Flight Control and Harbor Master’s respective updates. Despite all of my frustrations I keep coming back for more though, so it's still fun and addicting, but just not as top notch as it could be. Backflip Studios has made another great game though.
The VerdictHarbor Havoc 3D brings a fresh take to the line drawing genre, that can be wonderful to play. The game looks brilliant, and directing traffic on multiple levels is amazing. The problem is that it takes a while to get into the good action. Flight Control started it all, and now there are so many gameplay mechanic copies that path drawing has become its own genre. Harbor Master passed Flight Control, and then 33rd Division brought a whole new idea to the path drawing making it the best of the “genre”. For directing various vehicle traffic Harbor Master is #1, Harbor Havoc 3D has moved into the #2 spot just behind, and Flight control is at #3, but all behind 33rd Division. Harbor Havoc is a great game in the App Store, and a should buy for a $1.99, and hopefully we can see a quick update with a save system, and a fast forward button. With the update we may have the new king of path drawing games.
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