Friday, May 18, 2012

Michelin Game - Scotland Yard

In a time before video games, I vividly remember spending a great part of my childhood with my friends and relatives playing classic board games like Monopoly and Cluedo.

These days, children have all but forgotten this marvelous pastime, and I used to remember the excitement and immense joy in getting out of these evergreen games.

Thankfully, the introduction of the iPad has surprisingly seen a revival of these classic boardgames, and old school boardgames makers like Hasbro and Ravensburger are now using the iOS platform to translate their old games for a new generation.

And perhaps, it is not difficult to understand why. The iPad is an ideal choice for boardgames, with its larger screen size and touch capabilities, the visual elements of a boardgame can be faithfully replicated and with the new iPad's Retina Display, classic games can now look even better than their original incarnations.

One such game that has just been released is a game that hails from the early 80s, and was actually awarded a Game of the Year award back then. It is called Scotland Yard, and it is a classic cat and mouse game.

Beautifully Rendered Board

The premise of the game is that one player who will assume the role of Mister X, who is on the run, and up to 6 players can play a detective each, and their objective is to hunt him down within 24 turns, or until each detective runs out of cards to play.

At the start of each game, every player draws a random location to begin with and Mr X makes the first move. Each detective is given 3 sets of cards, comprising of taxis, buses and subway rides. The game is played out on a virtual map of London, which is beautifully rendered on the Retina Display. 

To move, each player has to play a card that can move it to the next destination on the map. Not every destination is reachable with every card, so the player has to be careful not to run out of a specific card and is left stranded and eliminated out of the game. 

The Capture Of Mister X

Mr X, however, gets more cards than everyone else, and is also able to play 2 additional sets of cards, namely a set of cards that will allow him to move twice and another set that will not show what transport he has taken. This can be used to confuse the detectives who are after him.

The beauty of this game is that Mr X's exact location will not be displayed to the other detectives, but the game will show his exact location only in specific turns during the game, usually after about every 4 or 5 moves. For Mr X then, he has to evade the detectives until all 24 turns are up, in which case the game is won by Mr X.

Mr X will also win if all the other detectives run out of cards or moves. If any of the detectives moves to a spot which Mr X occupies, then the reverse occurs and the game is collectively won by the detectives and the winning detective will also get an achievement in Game Center.

Statistics

Each game usually takes about 20 minutes or so to complete, and a page will display a set of statistics of the games that you have played. There are also Game Center achievements as well as some tutorials and rules to explain how to play the game.

All in all, this is a great game for the family. It will take a game or two to fully understand the mechanics, but once you get used to the game, it is then all down to a bit of strategy and a bit of luck to win it.

Playing either Mr X or a detective can be equally fun and at times, suspenseful. On the iPad, the computer can control as many characters as you like, and you can also choose to play as many characters you want as well, which makes this highly replayable.

The AI can be from easy to hard for either Mr X and the detectives, and I find that the AI is quite challenging, and should keep you enthralled for some time with the single player game.

Multiplayer And Online Options

There are also multiplayer options for wifi/bluetooth and online games and this is one of the vest implementations of multiplayer gaming for the iOS devices yet. You can partner up to 3 other players from Game Center and the players can have any combination of playing Mister X and the detectives.

You can even play more than one character in multiplayer mode and this almost unlimited permutation of character choices really provides a lot of replayability. The online feature is really fun and the human aspect really throws up a lot of unexpected moves and challenges. 

The graphics are beautiful and even the music is great, a kind of jazzy and laid back type of background which really enhances the mood. The menus are also presented with a touch of class and everything here is top-notch. It is also universal and can be played on the iPhone as well, but it works much better on the iPad.

Scotland Yard is a great example of an excellent iPad boardgame and ranks with Ticket To Ride (another great game) as one of the best family boardgames out there. For me, this is so far, the best game of 2012.

Scotland Yard (US$4.99) - Click here to download the game.

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