|Genre: Strategy & War|
|Min OS X: 10.5.8|
Requirements:Mac OS X: 10.5.8 | CPU: 2 GHz Dual Core Intel Processor | RAM: 2 GB | HD Space: 625 MB Graphics: ATI Radeon X800 XL or better | Additional: Requires OpenGL 2.0 support or better. XBox 360 controller recommended.
Review:There's always a bit of worry when a game gets ported from console to Mac. Will it provide good controls without a gamepad? Will the performance be ok? And so on. There are excellent ports, of course, but the trend does seem to be a lower-quality experience after the port. This generally takes the form of lowered performance, but there's also the occasional failure in controls. Unfortunately, HOARD from Big Sandwich Games falls right into that category.
The grand majority of the time in HOARD is spent using your flame breath to burn various things and convert them to riches for your home hoard. In order to do that, you move with either the keyboard, mouse, or a very specific couple of gamepads, and aim your flame breath with either an analog stick or clicking with the mouse. Where the problem arises is that you can somehow click outside the game window if you move your mouse towards the top of the screen enough. In addition, you may encounter moved windows in the background or even notice that you activated a menu item (like Restart) from one of the menus up top. Needless to say, this can be greatly annoying.
What makes it worse is that you do not appear to have a choice as to how you control the fire breath besides whether it's mouse or gamepad. If there had been the ability to map the flame breath to the keyboard as well, this problem would have been a minor annoyance. However, due to the fact that not everyone has the variants of gamepad that HOARD uses, you're essentially forced to use a broken system. You'd think there had to have been a better way to do this. Still, if you can get used to recovering quickly from having your dragon frozen to the direction it was moving when you clicked outside, it won't entirely destroy your fun.
Thankfully, the game itself is relatively fun when you get down to it. The constant fight to gain riches and level up your breath, flight speed, money capacity, or defense while defending against the numerous attacking or thieving creatures can get quite enjoyable. It's particularly the case in multiplayer games, due to the regular backstabs with the money-sucker powerup or multiplier loss due to getting flamed in the behind. It just gets to be hard, intense, and a non-stop fight for the top of the leaderboard. As an action game goes, it's definitely above-average.
It also doesn't look bad at all. The cartoony style is translated well into the wizard towers, energy shots, freezing flame trails, dragon animations, princess carriages, and various colorings of knights. It's not exactly a 3D masterpiece by any means, but HOARD is very functional. All the art flows together naturally and it's easy to pick out what each item on the map is. There's even an alternative snow skin for the countryside if you don't like staring at greens all day, and all the color shades appear to be represented in dragon choices.
It's also nice to note that the sound quality is a little higher than the usual thuddy and clunky action game. Flame breath sounds natural, knights call out in anger as they hunt you down, princesses squeak and scream as you drag them across the map for ransom, and there are enough music tracks to keep your mind focused on something besides "change the tune!" the entire game. Some of the effects, like the clang that occurs when a knight smashes into you, aren't quite representative of what just happened, though. In that particular case, you'd think the knight got hit, not your dragon. Still, definitely good audio overall.
Now, the real question is... do you have a gamepad that works with the game? If so, fork over the $10 today! It's quite fun when you get down to it. However, if you don't.... stay away. Stay far away. There aren't any excuses for a bug that can potentially reset your computer while you're playing and there aren't any excuses for having no alternative control schemes to the bugged one. It can be managed, but it's a simple fact that you'll constantly get annoyed along the way.
Pros:• Frantic multiplayer fun
• Dozens of maps to play
Cons:• Broken mouse controls
• No keymapping potential
• Maps to too few gamepads