Hooves of Fire brings the excitement of horse racing to Facebook
Few sports seem so perfectly tailored for social games as horse racing: its rules are simple, its matches are short, and maintaining a good horse requires almost constant care. In the right hands, such a simple but addictive concept could potentially rival the genre’s unassailable farm-based games and even draw attention to the sport itself, but only a tiny handful of games have made it out of the gate thus far. Among the most notable is Rubber Duck’s Hooves of Fire, which springs out of the gate while covering virtually every aspect of racing horses with only a few stumbles.
The horses are always the stars here, and within moments you can buy a horse with your starter money and customize its color, saddle, and name. Beyond that, you can expand your stables and buy more horses, and you can feed and brush your horses every few hours to improve their happiness. Periodic training sessions improve your horses’ strength and endurance, and after a couple of days you can breed your horses with either one of your own horses or another player’s. Horses even die of natural causes, so it’s important to breed your stock and continue training horses throughout the game.
The racing itself is easily accessible and exciting (although a bit heavy on statistics, which will nevertheless please true racing fans), and matches are constantly available. You can either race your own horses on a surprisingly large number of tracks, or you can bet on any other races with the standard racing options, including win, place, show, trifecta, and others. For those unfamiliar with the sport, that mean you have plenty of options available for winning cash aside from merely betting on the winner. Best of all, Hooves of Fire actually allows you to watch the races (even if you choose not to bet on them), which goes a long way toward capturing the true sprit of the sport.
Unfortunately, Hooves of Fire is only fun for so long without buying the $5.00 monthly VIP pass, which gives you access to 15,000 extra in-game dollars, a science lab that allows you to buy steroids and the like, and the ability to sell your horses. For added benefits, you can learn which types of tracks your horse likes or dislikes, and you can customize the appearance of your horse’s saddle. This may make some players balk at playing Hooves of Fire for long, but five bucks is ultimately a small and direct investment compared to the subtle payment methods employed by other Facebook games. Elsewhere, the art design begs for improvement, although it’s never so poor as to be distracting. Social interactivity with your Facebook friends is largely limited to brushing their horses daily for a nice bit of cash, although you can chat with players in the game as a whole in a lively chat room.
In short, Hooves of Fire has the formula right, and whatever it suffers in visual quality is more than remedied by its surprising addictiveness. Although chance is always a factor, skill and wise decisions play a major part in the outcomes of each race and thus Hooves of Fire is spared the random outcomes of simpler games. Learn the horses, learn the stats, and you may be well on your way to winning big in Hooves of Fire. While Hooves of Fire might not be the final word in horse racing games on Facebook, it sets a high standard for any games to come.