iPad Game Review: 4 Elements II HD Premium For iPad Review
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
4 Elements II is a match-3 game with a fantasy adventure theme. It features over 64 levels (+32 Collector's Edition levels), powerups, mini-games, and puzzles.
At the heart of every match-3 game is, well, matching things. While I have always found standard matching games to be somewhat mindless and repetitive, I can state unreservedly that 4 Elements II is neither. The secret sauce here is not simply that they break up the regular game with mini games (more on that later). What sets 4 Elements II apart is the fact that the board is not static. As matches are made, the solid background behind the gems is removed, and fluid moves in to fill the empty space. It is this liquid that must be brought in contact with a particular object at the end of the maze in order to win the level. As you play, the game board will scroll in all four directions as you strategically attempt to clear obstructions. Yes, that's right; there is a strategic element to 4 Elements II. It starts off easy enough, but before long, you'll be staring at the maze trying to figure out how to match a tricky little gem that is completely blocking you at some pinch-point. Fortunately, there are power-ups available to help you deal with sticky situations, all of which are recharged by matching a particular color of gem. If this isn't enough to keep you interested, there are also a nicely varied collection of mini-games that will pop up from time-to-time to break things up. These include pipe puzzles, hidden object, find the difference, and jigsaws. Lastly, 4 Elements II fully supports Game Center Achievements.
It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Playrix' graphical style. In fact, I've never booted a game from this developer that failed to WOW me graphically. While 4 Elements II doesn't claim to support the new iPad's retina display, the game screens are still quite visually striking and beautiful. The game board is so expertly drawn that it makes your iPad screen look like its wet; and the animation is smooth, fluid, and charming. In short, this game is as enjoyable to look at as it is to play.
The music and sound of 4 Elements II both compliment the gameplay nicely. In particular, I found the sound effects to be very well-done, right down to the clinking of the gems.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
The premium version of 4 Elements II does not contain any IAPs of any kind. However, there are free versions available for both the iPad and iPhone, both of which offer the chance to unlock the full game with a single IAP. I do NOT recommend you do this for two reasons. First, the premium version is $2 cheaper than the IAP in the free version. Second, I never recommend relying on IAP unlocks as one never knows how long a given company will be around, or whether or not they will keep their validation servers running even if they still are. Feel free to try the free version, but if you like it, take the time to up front and download the premium (e.g. unlocked) version.
4 Elements II is a fantastic match-3 game. It manages to keep an old game genre fresh and fun, even introduces a few new twists along the way. Further, the graphics and sound are both top-notch, and the amount of game content makes 4 Elements II a great value.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 4.5 - Fantastic graphics, although not retina-ready. Sound: - 5 - Great music and sound effects that really enhance gameplay. Controls: - 5 - An accurate and responsive touch interface. Gameplay: - 5 - One of the best match-3 games available on the app store.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Matching more than 3 gems will make a larger explosion, allowing you to destroy the stone beneath otherwise unmatchable gems. If you are trying to access a particular power-up, be sure to match as many gems of that color as possible as that is the only way to recharge it.