Excerpt: I remember back when player-built mods for FPS games were called .wads, were exclusive for Doom and existed only to try and prove that your fellow gamers hated you almost as much as iD did. Much as I love that old shooter, it was clear that there was only so much you could build upon the foundations and, to varying degrees of success, everyone chose to try and kill you violently in a similar fashion that the original game did.
Conclusion: Outside of the pacing issues, The Ball is a very good-looking game, especially at its price point. You get to travel through a handful of unique and highly detailed environments, and the shininess of Unreal Engine 3 is on full display throughout. The luminescent water is particularly striking. But really, The Ball is all about the ball. I love my ball, but The Ball has some issues.
Excerpt: First-Person Shooters used to always have puzzle sections, whether it be finding the Red Key for the Red Door or some physics based puzzles to create a ramp to continue onto the next area. What Teotl Studios have done is taken this concept and applied it to the main draw of the game. The Ball is a puzzler centered around a Giant Ball and some ancient ruins found deep underground during a mining operation in the 1940s.
Excerpt: The Ball kicks off with one of those scenarios that only ever happens in a video game. The year is 1940, and you're on an archaeological dig halfway up the side of a Mexican volcano. You trip over the shoelaces on your explorer boots, take a 40ft tumble, and suddenly find yourself at the bottom of a deep cavern. Your buddy shouts down to you and explains that it'll take a good day or two to fetch a winch to get you out of there.
Excerpt: Shortly after the Unreal Development Kit was released to the public for free, The Ball brushed fame as a finalist in the Make Something Unreal contest. The competition and ensuing award had significance, because it showed what could happen when some of the barriers between gamer and developer were removed. Unfortunately, The Ball also shows just how beneficial it can be to have an experienced game designer at the helm. Mexico. 1940.
Excerpt: The Ball, developed by Teotl Studios, was originally created as a mod for Unreal Tournament 3 that later became a winner in Epic Games' Make Something Unreal contest at the 2010 D.I.C.E. (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain) Summit. Since then, the developer had managed to convert the mod from a 40-minute technical demo into an 8-hour full-fledged game, offering up a hefty dose of unique physics based puzzles.
Summary: Starting out as a mod for the Unreal engine, The Ball has developed into a full game with physics-based puzzles, angry mummies, and one giant ball. Players navigate their way through a series of dark tunnels and abandoned underground cities to discover the source of power behind the ball.
Pros: Very clever and unique puzzle game, Creative environments, Easy to pick up and play mechanics
Cons: Poorly implemented platforming, Games doesn't really get going until halfway through, Could have pushed the idea further
Summary: In 2007, Valve's Portal captured our hearts with mind-bending gameplay and one snarky AI. Now, The Ball from Teotl Studios aims to rekindle what made the Portal experience so memorable by putting a spin on physics-based puzzling. But while it's packed with clever challenges, nasty enemies, and a unique Aztec design, many of the game's finer moments are buried beneath so many layers of tedium that you might never reach them.
Pros: Unusual Aztec design, Interesting late-game challenges, Controlling the ball is a breeze
Cons: Best moments buried at the end, Repetitive combat, repetitive puzzles, Survival mode won't hold your interest
Excerpt: 2010's been a good year for indie developers. Indie games have been doing an impressive job holding their own against the big budget titles and have given us some truly provocative gaming experiences.