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    cjvitek's Avatar
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    Default Review: Catan HD, by USM

    Catan HD, by USM
    $4.99, ***1/2


    • Settlers of Catan for the iPad
    • Bigger graphics makes it easier to play

    • Still “clunky” interface
    • Some aspects of game confusing
    • Multiplayer is not easy to play

    A while back I reviewed the iPhone game, Catan. This official import of the Settlers of Catan board game was something I had been waiting for, for quite some time. So I was enthusiastic about the game, and gave it a fairly good review. The HD iPad version of the game came out about a year ago, and I just picked it up to see what improvements had been made. Unfortunately, not enough had been made and the game suffers form some of the same drawbacks I initially overlooked in the iPhone version.

    For those unfamiliar with the game, Catan (or Settlers, as it is often referred) is a world conquest board game. However, instead of just using armies, you conquer the world by building cities and developing resources into more and more power. Build more cities, get more soldiers, build longer roads, etc. The game is interesting because it combines luck (rolling dice) with skill (choosing location and strategic plans for expansion).

    The iPhone version was a fun import of the game. The iPad version basically mirrors the iPhone version – keeping the same graphics, game play, and style, albeit in a larger, easier to use screen. When you start playing, you can choose between four players, any combination of computer players and/or human opponents. One nice feature is that the computer players are listed as having distinct personalities that will influence their game play (although in reality I didn’t see much different between them). For serious fans of the game, Catan HD is a fun way to play. For non fans or casual fans, however, there are many difficulties in palying.

    The first of these is the game play itself. When it is a persons turn, that player has control of the screen. However, the game doesn’t really make good use of the iPad large screen, and instead has various buttons that you need to hit to get information (rather than have it all visible right away). One of the big game play issues I had was with trading. If someone is offering to trade with you, it is somewhat difficult to figure out what you would be getting, and what you would be giving up. In addition, I have never had a counter offer accepted, so the trading “intelligence” seems to need some work. When you are playing with multiplier real people, you have to keep passing the iPad back and forth as the computer keeps making offers to trade to each of you. One time, no joke, my sister and I passed it back and forth 15 times while it was a computer player’s turn. You can choose to reject all trades, but that seems a little pointless and risky.

    There are some different game modes built in, and you can customize the game play itself for a little variety. You can also purchase expansion sets to expand the game play option – the same as the real board game. Unfortunately, there still isn’t any online multiplayer or anyway to play other than swapping the iPad back and forth. I would have liked to see some ability to link to another iPhone/iPad, or some online aspect.

    All in all, this is still a fun game, especially if you are a fan of the board game. Despite a somewhat clunky and at time confusing interface, the game is still visually appealing, and the various modification, in app expansion purchases, and rule changes you can apply make the game playable multiple time. Although it lacks anything other than a direct pass the iPad multiplayer mode, the game is even more fun when you are playing against someone other than the computer. While enjoyable, though, I just wish the had done MORE with it. At $4.99, it is a mid-priced game, and I would classify it as the same level of quality – worthwhile but not potentially to a non-fan. Three and a half out of five stars.

    Rating scale:

    * = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
    ** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
    *** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
    **** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
    ***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.

    Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating. Please comment on these reviews. If you own the app, tell me what your opinion is. If the review prompted you to buy (or not buy) the app, let me know why. If you want more information about the app, go ahead and ask.

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