'TheEndApp': When the World Ends, the Fun Starts
In "TheEndApp," you play as a survivalist running and hunting around in a collapsed world. Your quarry: duct tape, of course. The game has a very "Temple Run"-esque feel to it, and the richly chaotic scenery flies by as the player character sprints through, over, under and around obstacles. As fun as "TheEndApp" is to play, though, be forewarned: The end of the world is not easy.
I'm definitely not an iOS gamer, but I do look for a good diversion every now and then. My latest: "TheEndApp." The premise: The world as we know it comes to an end and you've got to run around an urban wasteland collecting duct tape as you go. Why? Presumably duct tape can fix anything -- at my home I've got two rolls in the garage, one in each vehicle, and some on my motorcycle -- and at the end of the world, duct tape becomes the new currency.
Makes sense to me.
And what are you buying when the world collapses? Stuff for your survival camp, like a mattress or a tent, as well as game play gear like a duct tape magnet or a shield.
The game play is a behind-the-back runner. As near as I can tell, this style rose to popularity with "Temple Run," which features a narrow path that a guy sprints along while beasts chase him and he collects tokens. Tilting the iOS device left or right guides the runner while an up swipe causes a big jump for leaping holes or fires. A down swipe causes a slide for skidding underneath obstacles. A left or right swipe causes a wicked-fast left or right turn, which is so sharp that no human -- even with slobbering beasts chasing -- could ever consider making in real life. And the sprinting? Looks to me to be about 45 mph.
There are other games that feature behind-the-back running, including a Disney one -- "Temple Run: Brave," -- that features the red-headed heroine of the namesake movie, and even an app called "Survival Run" with Bear Grylls. I almost gave that one a try, but frankly, it has a chopper, paragliders, and jetpacks, and I just don't have time to learn all these things.
Back to 'TheEndApp'
The runner, which is you, is a burly guy decked out with stout boots, a backpack, and a bedroll. As you start the game, you can free run, which lets you explore the broken and deserted city, collecting rolls of duct tape spread out along your path. You have to leap over burning wreckage of cars, 18-wheelers and lava. And you'll have to slide under pipes and debris -- it's hard for me to say what everything is because I'm so busy looking at what I'll have to do next that I can't really enjoy the blasted scenery as I sprint by. I get the sense that there are some funny jokes hidden along the way, but like I said, my brain is only so fast at processing the images, so I'm sure I've missed some stuff. Maybe signage, maybe graffiti, maybe nothing at all.
The game play is snappy and clean. The trick is figuring out how to hold the device so you tip it and swipe to the best effect. The game is great on my iPad 2, and nearly as good on my iPhone 4. You can run the game one-handed, but I found that I'm better with two hands -- my left to tilt and my right to swipe for jumping and sliding.
And still, I'm terrible at it.
Yes, I'm terrible at "TheEndApp." I'll never be able to complete it. I suspected this early on. I knew for certain when I asked a 14-year-old to play a bit of "Temple Run" for me on his iPhone and he warned me that he wasn't very good at it. He sprinted his player for about five miles at insane speeds, turning, jumping, sliding and collecting a gazillion tokens before missing a turn and dying. "See?" he said. "I suck."
I thought he was amazing.
Fortunately, "TheEndApp" appears to be more forgiving than "Temple Run." The streets seem pretty wide, plus you can bump into burned-out cars or smack your head as you attempt to slide under a jackknifed tractor-trailer rig ... and not die for half a dozen mistakes or so. Of course, jumping into a pool of lava bubbling up will kill you instantly, as will jumping into the side of a truck.
The End App gives you challenges as well as a free run portion, and while it seems as if you just run around in the same portion of a city, there are other levels. I don't know if I'll get to them or not, but I do know it's going to take me a while. As for the challenges, these start pretty easy, like jumping 20 times or sliding 10 or avoiding 1,500 rolls of duct tape. There are five available challenges per day with 14 days worth.
I Need a Geriatric Mode
As I was playing, I definitely got better, and if I had the time, I'm sure I could teach my basal ganglia to let me run at speed and survive a little longer. After an hour I learned that you can slide or jump far in advance of what reality might suggest, plus you can lean to the edge of a street and use it like a bumper without tearing your arms off of on sharp debris. But still, I just wanted to slow the game down. I wanted a slow motion mode, like a Sunday morning jog. What I really want out of "TheEndApp" is a Geriatric Mode. Seriously. Heck, I'd buy it as an in-app purchase, and if it meant I couldn't use my scores on the Game Center Leader Boards, so be it.
All in all, though, "TheEndApp" has a great premise, sweet graphics, and snappy controls. You get a lot of great play with the free version, and the Pro version for $1.99 with some options to buy more duct tape seem like reasonable offerings. I have half a mind to buy a shipment of duct tape and buy why way farther along ... just to find out if there's anything at the end.