MacLife

Vio Review

If you've ever dreamed of talking like a robot while warping at high speeds through hyperspace, then look no further: Vio lets you simultaneously fulfill both of those wishes. Part toy and part tool, this bizarre musical app takes a little tinkering to get a feel for, but it's a blast to play around with for a while once you figure it out.

Using your iOS device's microphone, Vio transforms your voice and other sounds it picks up into a musical mish-mash of sci-fi robotic craziness. You can talk, sing, hum, speak, or just make random noises to create wild effects. Tapping, pinching, and swiping the star field in different ways changes the audio and the trippy vortex on the screen. A dozen presets give you a lot of variety in the kinds of sounds you can make, and it's possible to create repeating audio loops. Some effects make you sound like the adorable turret robots in the game Portal, while others pulse and warp your voice into techno synth tracks. There's even a hilarious auto-tune effect amusingly dubbed "P-Tain." It's funny for sure, but what's the point?

Screen 33

All of these audio diversions are amusing to tinker with in an abstract way, but only the most inventive music-minded users will find Vio of any real use beyond its giggle-inducing capacity. If you're inclined to go that route, hooking your iOS device to a stereo or multi-track recorder opens up potential for using Vio in a more serious musical capacity for vocals and sound effects. The option to make in-app recordings that you can upload to SoundCloud is a nice touch too. Vio's on-board user guide doesn't explain its functions very clearly, however, making it appear shallower than it really is. Unfortunately, you'll have to hit the app's website for a full explanation.

The bottom line. Vio is a weird and wondrous audio toy for robot-minded folks, but it has limited practical musical appeal outside of the electronica realm.

Review Synopsis

Product: 

Company: 

Square B

Contact: 

Price: 

$2.99

Requirements: 

iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 5.1 or later

Positives: 

Fun to fiddle with. Interesting range of sound effects.

Negatives: 

Barebones tutorial doesn't explain all functions properly. Limited musical possibilities.

Score: 
3 Solid

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Order & Chaos Duels Review

While Gameloft's past Order & Chaos games had players fighting off monsters in massively multiplayer online battles (Order & Chaos Online) or defending their bases in multiplayer online battle arena matches (Heroes of Order & Chaos), the new Order & Chaos Duels turns combat into a strategic game of cards. Featuring all of the lore and fantasy the franchise is known for, Duels offers plenty of rich card-dueling action, but is marred by a freemium structure that makes for a frustrating deck-building experience.

When you first begin playing, Duels greets you with an in-depth tutorial that does a great job of making sure you understand the basics of the game. Just as inviting is the game’s presentation, which is both a treat for your eyes and ears with beautifully illustrated cards, fanciful animations during battle, and a lofty soundtrack. During a match, you and your opponent take turns laying down minion cards to chip away at each other’s health. These cards block you from an enemy attack if placed in front of another card, and can also directly attack an opponent if no card blocks their way. A mana meter also restricts how many cards you can use each turn, so knowing where to place a card or when to sacrifice one for more mana adds to the game’s strategy.

Screen 34

As you play through the game’s campaign mode, you’ll unlock more powerful cards with unique effects and abilities to further strengthen your deck. Building a good deck is key to winning, but in order to do so, you’ll need to rely on the game’s luck-based rewards system, which presents you with random cards after you defeat an enemy, or a free card from the game’s shop every day. Of course, you can also purchase rare cards with your own money, but converting your dollars to the game’s currency means you’ll need to once again rely on luck to get the rare card you want. This means completing the game’s campaign mode or standing a chance against some opponents you’ll encounter online can get rather expensive.

The bottom line. Order & Chaos Duels can quickly become very pricey the more you play, which is a shame since it offers a rich combat system and lots of charm.

Review Synopsis

Company: 

Gameloft

Price: 

Free

Requirements: 

iPad, iPod touch, or iPhone running iOS 4.3 or later

Positives: 

Rich card game mechanics with plenty of depth and variety. Plenty of cards to collect and understand. Wonderful presentation and colorful visuals.

Negatives: 

Luck-based rewards system. Purchasing cards means relying on luck to get what you want. Requires persistent online connection to play.

Score: 
3 Solid

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