If you're worried that the ancient Mayans have already made a muck of 2012 by insinuating that the world will end on the winter solstice, then you might enjoy knowing that they've focused on happier themes in this new puzzle game by GameDuell. In Maya Whiz, the mathematically adept Mesoamericans are less concerned with making doomsday calendars than with outdoing each other with simple sums in speed matches. It's not without its stumbles, but Maya Whiz's combination of thought-provoking gameplay and Bejeweled Blitz-style mechanics allow for a unique twist on a familiar format that should satisfy many newcomers.
- While it's not without its flaws, Kixeye's Battle Pirates is a shining example of just how far Facebook has evolved as a gaming platform in the last couple of years. The concept isn't terribly different from the studio's successful Backyard Monsters, but the welcome innovation of battling other players in real time marks a significant step in creating an experience similar to Command and Conquer on Starcraft II on Facebook. In short, if you're looking for a game with elements of genuine real-time strategy, resource harvesting, and base building all in one appealing package, Battle Pirates is worth a look. Just be prepared for a handful of bugs.
- Few developers have embraced the challenge of attracting "hardcore" gamers to Facebook quite like Kabam, and now it is once again attempting to court the Starcraft and Command & Conquer crowd with Global Warfare. While Global Warfare doesn't feel terribly different from the studio's earlier outings, its higher emphasis on multiplayer coordination and player versus player combat mark a bold new direction in Kabam's crusade to make Facebook a hardcore platform. But is it enough?
- At one point slated to bea full-on separate release, the Ravenstone Mine expansion for Ravenwood Fair is finally available. And while it may look quite different that its predecessor. the core gameplay remains largely unchanged. But considering we gave the original four and a half stars, that's not necessarily a bad thing. So even though there's not really any gameplay twists in Ravenstone, the addition of a new, very different area to explore and new characters to interact with make it a great choice for those looking for a change of scenery.
- BMD BetterWorld's BattleMe is a deceptively simple game that centers on battling automated Facebook accounts with tanks and other military toys, but beyond that simple facade waits a surprisingly complex strategic experience. In its best moments, BattleMe recalls the addicting gameplay of early arcade titles, and we look forward to improvements to this fun little title in the next few weeks.
- Let's be honest here: at its core, Endemol's hit show Deal or No Deal is simply a game about picking some random briefcases and hoping you win something. That might be suspenseful when there's a chunk of real money at stake, but it's a rough concept on which to build an enduring social game. While you can't go wrong here if picking random briefcases is your thing, the deal this title offers every other player is shady at best.
- For the uninitiated, playing a collectible card game can seem as complex as casting the spells printed on the front of each card. A lightweight mathematical discussion lies behind each lurid painting of a scantily clad sorceress, and few novices these days have the patience to work this calculated arcanery with pen and paper. It's perhaps no wonder, then, that Zynga dumbed down the experience a bit for Warstorm, an ambitious CCG that's been out for a while on Facebook. It's not a bad game, but it yields too much control to the computer in the name of accessibility, and in the process loses almost every bit of the genre's magic.
- War Metal: Tyrant is a collectible card game (CCG) for Facebook, which prompts one to wonder if the venerable pastime isn't going the way of the paper book after the successes of similar titles like Zynga's Warstorm. That seems unlikely for now, but it isn't because games like Tyrant don't give their physical counterparts a decent run for their money. While it suffers from mildly disappointing artwork and questionable strategy, Tyrant comes closer to mimicking the gameplay of a real CCG than any of its competitors.