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Track & Field

track1.PNGStaying (thankfully) away from the idiotic ‘mash the keys as fast as you can’ sports genre on other platforms, Track & Field uses subtlety – here the idea is not to tap the on-screen icons as fast as possible, but to tap them in the right order and with perfect timing. Get it right and your character goes faster, further or produces a better action. All in the name of defeating unlikely sports superstars (‘Stavros’) over five real events. The game promises multiplayer action but you may well be disappointed.track2.PNGModelling five events from a Track & Field gathering (i.e. 100m, long jump, 110m hurdles, pole vault and javelin), you can compete against any number of computer opponents in an ad-hoc event fashion or by taking part in a tournament with a full cast of CPU-powered characters. The idea, naturally, is to finish as fast as possible, or to jump as high or as long as possible, as appropriate. You’ll notice that all five events are linear, i.e. they involve running in a straight line – I’m guessing that modelling running around a curve was too much for the developers and so they took the easy way out.track3.PNGMovement in each event is via tapping on the green circles that appear under each thumb. The order in which these appear is semi-random and you get extra benefit from hitting them as quickly as possible. Get one wrong and a red cross appears and you’ll slow down a little, etc. For some events, tapping, holding and releasing red circles help time your jump/launch. The system works well and the gameplay is nicely pitched to make it challenging. If you do master the set of events, there’s a ‘Pro’ level to unlock, with harder gameplay.track4.PNGThe graphics are nicely animated throughout – they’re not photorealistic, but they’re clear and they’re fun, always letting you see the results of your tapping and timing. I found the sound somewhat disappointing, with little finesse on the ‘tap, you got that one right’ and ‘oops, you got that one wrong’ sound effects – perhaps some realistic track and field sound effects would have been more appropriate here?track5.PNGThere are two problems with Track & Field. Firstly, the promised ‘Multiplayer’ mode turns out not to involve any online action other than uploading high scores – and ehttp://iphoneapplicationlist.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=6759ven local multiplayer games have to be on a turn by turn ‘hand the iPhone around a group’ basis. No Bluetooth, no Wi-Fi, not even a duplicate set of tap points on the same screen so that you could play at the same time – all a bit underwhelming. Secondly, the above list of five events is all there is. With a title like Track & Field, I’d expected a lot more. Given the work that has gone into the animation and action engines, it would surely have been fairly easy to create more than five events to attempt? Definitely scope for an update here, I feel.However, Track & Field is still worth picking up, given its low purchase price – it’s a fun way to get your athletics kicks for an hour or two while rain stops the real thing…

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