Semaphore Studios has released Semaphore's new title for Android, Uearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta (which I'll be calling Unearthed from here on out). The very first thing you need to know is that they have done what we rarely see, and that is release an Android version that's equal to the version you can buy for your PlayStation. That tells me they "get" mobile, and any game studio that gets mobile has my immediate attention.
I've had the pleasure of playing the game for a few days, and I have to say, it's pretty damn good. It's very much like the Uncharted series meets Tomb Raider, so any fan of action adventure shooters is probably going to like it — and it's done well enough to even convert a few of the non-believers who think a great game needs to be fps or GTFO. The game requires a game controller — like a Moga or compatible HID controller — or you need a mini-console like the NVIDIA Shield. Once you start playing, you'll know why. This is no tap-and-do-stuff game, it needs buttons and joysticks like a game you would play on the PlayStation. The Unreal engine makes it look great, and it plays very smoothly. You'll still find the occasional clipping, but I was unable to get stuck anywhere I couldn't get out of or pass through anything I wasn't supposed to be able to pass through. And I tried. Even the driving was easy. If you play on a Tegra 4 device, you get extra visuals and graphics like color correction, lens dirt effects, bullet decals, car body damage, and tire tracks. You also get double the texture resolution, which looks spectacular.
Smooth gameplay, great graphics and decent game controls are important, but equally important is the story and why you're digging in ancient ruins and shooting at people who are trying to shoot you. In Unearthed, you play as fortune hunter Faris Jawad. He and his sister Dania are on the trail of the famous Muslim explorer Ibn Battuta. Unfortunately, an arms dealer, a smuggler and fellow who heads a militia have joined forces and are in your way at every turn. This reinforces the evil Middle Eastern guy stereotypes a bit, but it fits into the gameplay so you'll overlook that. Your adventures take you through ancient ruins, city streets and the shifting sands. The cinematic cuts are done really well (be sure not to skip them) and it all fits together rather nicely.
If you're looking for a game you can play in quick bursts, like when on the train or your coffee break, (or anything with Flappy in the title) Unearthed isn't it. But if you want to don your Indiana Jones fedora and spend some quality time outwitting thugs and solving puzzles, Unearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta is a great purchase. Grab it from the Google Play link at the top of this post.
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