Killer robots in space: how Gus Mastrapa helped me save the universe
Playfish is not the only company working diligently to make a name for itself on social networking scenes like Facebook, MySpace and Beebo, but it is certainly one of the best at providing graphically rich game experiences in that space. We'll be posting an interview with the company very soon, but I just wanted to talk about one game that has kept me busy this week: Crazy Planets.
If you haven't tried this Facebook game out, it is basically a turn-based strategy game similar to Worms in which little soldiers wearing the masks of your Facebook friends battle killer robots on planets for resources, experience points and medals. One thing I really like about the game is the fact that you can bring anyone into the game that is a friend on Facebook. So if you wanted to bring your mom along on a mission and she's connected to you on Facebook, you can drag her along and make her face her worst fear: killer robots..
One thing you cannot do is level up your friends characters; you'll have to rely on them to play the game if you want them to get better, get improved weaponry and more hit points. The other part of the game that is fascinating is the way resource management and research is tied to the social networking aspects of Facebook. The more friends you can get to join the game, the more resources you can get for yourself. You can only collect resources once a day from your Facebook pals, but if you have lots of friends then you'll get a leg up on someone that only has a handful. These resources, along with some separate resources collected from missions, are used to research upgrades. But again, the whole social networking aspect comes into play - the more friends you have playing the game, the quicker your research will go. In other words, 15 friends will turn a real world 24 hour research cycle into a mere 7 hours.
It is these little things that make the game enjoyable to play at lower levels, but Playfish needs to balance out the rest of the game so that when you are at the end it feels less like a grindfest than it is. Of course, the game is still in beta, and in our upcoming interview the company explains some of what it has in store.
I'm at level 16 if anyone is interested in having access to a strong character. I hope Gus Mastrapa will level up his character soon; I'm tired of him being the first guy to die on my team. On the plus side, it's hard to say no to a guy who enjoys eating a pickle shaped cookie while fighting off insane robots.