Wednesday, May 20, 2009
GridLocked. ($0.99, version 1.2)
Ever been stopped at a red light with cars behind you while there's not a car in sight to your left or to your right? Ever wished you could manage those lights more intelligently? Now's your chance. Gridlocked is a traffic management game. You have four crossroads and have to manage four sets of traffic lights in order to keep traffic moving. Keep cars waiting too long and you lose.
When you first start up the app you get a choice to turn sounds on or off. You cannot change this unless you restart the app. Adding an options menu with a volume switch would be a welcomed addition. A nice feature is that it has music playthrough so if you choose no sounds your music will play through. Once you select whether you wants sounds or not, you get a menu that allows you to play, view a tutorial, view statistics, and view the high scores. The tutorial goes over what the goal is, what the different-colored cars mean, and controls. It's only two screens since there's not much to learn in order to get cracking.
In order to view the high scores you will need an Internet connection, since it only shows global high scores. You can post your highest score to the scoreboard. It shows the top 25 scores, and the top dog gets a little thumbs up icon next to their name. Statistics include your highest score, your last score, how many games played, and most cars that have passed through the intersections in a single game.
From the game screen you have your current score at the top and a pause button on the lower right-hand side of the screen. The pause button brings up a menu that lets you either continue or end the current game. The game screen is what could be called a suburb. There's a parking lot on one corner, a couple of houses, a lake, and lots of trees. The treetops over the houses are see-through, so that you get a feeling that you can see the houses through the branches. The graphics are drawn and while not overly flashy, they serve the gameplay well. There are three types of cars: regular sedans, trucks, and ambulances. It's not explained whether ambulances change color faster.
The cars will change color depending on how long they've waiting at the intersection. White is the default color. White will turn first to yellow, then to orange, and then to red. Once it gets to red you only have a few seconds to get it moving or it's game over for you.
The intersections don't actually have tragic lights, they just have arrows that show which way the traffic will flow, up-down or left-right. If you change the arrows while a car is crossing the intersection and a car is coming the other way, the other car will just wait. There are no crashes in this game; everyone politely waits their turn if you happen to mess up the timing.
As the game progresses, the traffic starts to get bottlenecked. You may turn the arrows on the upper right intersection to go from up-down to left-right to get rid of some upper horizontal traffic but no one can move because the upper left intersection is turned up-down, and there are cars waiting there already. So it's not possible to save a game by just managing one intersection change; you have to also take into account the other intersections.
Your score doesn't increase each time a car passes the intersection, it just increases by one ever second or so. I found the game relaxing until about 200 or so, at which time it start getting a bit frantic. At the end you end up tapping around like a maniac trying to get rid of bottlenecks.
Sounds are minimal with some techno background music. The cars don't make a noise, while the trucks honk once and the ambulances have a short siren.
This game is incredibly addicting. You wouldn't think it would be this much fun to direct traffic. The addition of global high scores may keep you coming back for more. The current game is not saved if you exit the app or go back to the main menu, so if you're going for a high score you might want to schedule in some time before starting. This game is a perfect pick-up-and-play game. For a dollar, this is a worthwhile investment and a nice diversion.iTu