The App Expert: Tech reviews for teens ('Modern Combat 4,' theScore, Google Maps)
ThreeSixty’s resident technology guru Darwesh Singh likes to get app happy. Each month, he’ll be filing a regular series of app reviews for teens to test. Got something you want him to check out? Leave a suggestion below!
MODERN COMBAT 4: ZERO HOUR: $6.99 iOS App Store/Google Play
Building on “Modern Combat 3’s” success, Gameloft has released the next iteration in perhaps the best first person shooter for mobile touchscreen devices. It features a much better overall gaming experience, thanks to sharper graphics (for example, kills are more graphic, but not hyper-detailed), improved controls and advanced gameplay.
“MC4” changes a lot of things from “MC3,” like adding the ability to fight as the villain, Edward Page, which adds a whole new dimension of intrigue as you’re fighting against the same guys you are fighting for. Confusing, yes, but it doesn’t detract from the gameplay. Strategy plays a very important role in the game, as you are coupled with one or two other teammate AI’s (artificial intelligence), but you can’t just run in, shoot everyone and move out; you have to find cover and use it to your advantage. The plot also picks up from “MC3,” but fast-forwards us far into the future, where, much like “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2,” you have access to drones, as well as advanced enemy detection.
In short, you are on a rescue mission trying to eliminate Page, who has taken the President of the United States hostage. The game mechanics and controls are very easy to learn, even for a first-timer, although the game seems to be aimed more at people who have played a similar game before, like “Black Ops 2” and “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.”
Virtually everything is high quality, and “MC4” (again) takes the title for the best FPS for non-console games.
Final verdict: Four stars (out of five)
theScore MOBILE: Free: iOS App Store/Google Play
theScore is the only worthwhile competitor to ESPN, and they make good on an exceptionally promising platform with a beautiful, well-designed, functional sports coverage app that brings many of its website features onto your phone.
Much like the ESPN ScoreCenter app, theScore Mobile lets you choose from tons of popular sports, including all major ones like football, basketball, soccer, hockey, golf, NASCAR, and even minor ones like cricket. You can further “specialize” these sports by selecting your favorite teams, which are compiled into one tab called My Score, making it easy to see multiple sports, teams and matches in one view. Most sports feature a default “Scores” section, allowing you to check upcoming games, as well as live scores, a “Standings” page where you can check league tables, a “News” page where you can check the latest breaking information from that league or sport, and a “Leaders” section, which comes with individual stats. Whenever there’s a live match, theScore also lets you view in-game stats, a minute-by-minute blog and useful matchup info like stadium data.
The only place where ESPN has a definite edge is the “News” section, as theScore doesn’t feature as comprehensive video and blog coverage. All in all, the app is first-class, and definitely on par with ESPN’s better known ScoreCenter app. Best of all, like ESPN, it’s free!
Final verdict: Four stars (out of five)
GOOGLE MAPS: Free
After Apple’s Maps fiasco (featuring terribly inaccurate directions in almost every possible way), they have finally allowed Google Maps into the App Store. It’s a stunner.
Simply put, when compared to Apple’s in-house maps, Google Maps is far superior. The visuals are sleeker and in line with Android Jelly Bean and their Gmail, Search, YouTube and Chrome apps for iOS. Performance is lag-free, and in our testing, turn-by-turn spoken directions appeared to be much more accurate than Apple. Google Street is also a big bonus, finally making its way to iOS. The crisp visuals, coupled with more accurate satellite imagery, make it easy for you to get from home to virtually anywhere via car, bike, bus or foot.
The takeaway here: Forget Apple’s built-in Maps. Google’s Maps app will blow your mind. More importantly, it’ll get you to your final destination.
Final verdict: Five stars (out of five)