With its growing focus on mobile gaming and its penchant for trying to out-popular already popular games, Zynga was going to get around to stepping on Temple Run's toes eventually, and what better way than to combine the joy of endless running with the trusted ...With Friends brand? The result is a combination I'm finding much more compelling than I expected.
I expected a solid endless running game with a tacked on social aspect — you know, where you challenge a friend or random stranger to a game, take your shot and then wait for them to take theirs. Maybe there'd be tournaments and some sort of levelling system.
On the surface level, that's exactly what I got. Zynga, in collaboration with Eat Sleep Play of Twisted Metal fame, have built an incredibly solid little runner here. The controls are responsive, the atmosphere is light and friendly, and the setting — the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain — is the most appropriate setting for a family-friendly running game I could imagine.
Chased by bulls through the streets, the player collects stars, jumps over and slides under obstactles, dodges left and right and takes turns with a swipe of their finger. The goal is to get as far as they can before succumbing to the inevitable, while also getting farther than the player they're competing with at the time.
I really love the way this game's difficulty ramps as I run. Some endless runners just like to add a little speed, maybe increase obstacle density until it's too much for the player to take. Here we get multi-tiered roads, hordes of bulls to dodge, tempting power-ups in perilous places — there are even groups of computer-controlled players to pass by, amping up that social gaming feel.
Also amping up that social game feel, however, are lots of ads and plenty of opportunities to spend in-game currency on getting ahead of the crowd. Gems, collecting by racing and winning, can be purchased as well, making it all-too-easy for players to invest a little cash in order to secure a spot at the top of the leaderboards.
Running with Friends doesn't have to be about the compeition. It's an enjoyable enough runner in its own right that other people. Sure it's geared towards friendly competition, but the action is enjoyable enough on its own that it really doesn't matter if you win or lose — you'll have a good time regardless.
Running With Friends
- Genre: social Endless Running
- Developer: Zynga / Eat Sleep Play
- Platform: iOS
- Price: Free