iPad Game Review: Scotland Yard (Universal) Review
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Scotland Yard is an iOS adaptation of a board game classic. In it, you and up to 5 other players (AI or human) take the role as either an agent of Scotland Yard or the elusive Mr. X in a clever game of cat-and-mouse through the streets of London.
Scotland Yard is another slick iOS adaptation of a classic board game from Ravensburger Digital. The game board consists of a scalable and scrollable map of London, with numerous points interconnected by taxi, bus, and/or Underground (Mr. X has an additional option, but more on that later). Movement is simple; choose a connected destination and then choose a mode of transportation.
If you are playing as Scotland Yard, your goal is to capture or corner Mr. X. If you are playing as Mr. X, your goal is to avoid capture. The fact that gameplay is so completely different depending on which character you play really adds a massive amount of variety and replayability, by the way. Although the mechanics of movement are simple, the art of the game lies in the fact that the location of Mr. X is only occasionally revealed to the agents. Fortunately, the representatives of Scotland Yard are not expected to blunder about blindly. While the location of their quarry is rarely known, they are shown the mode of transportation that he last used. This is useful because not all modes of transportation are available between all points within the city. If you put all three of these facts together (last known location, mode of transportation, available transportation), it is possible to deduce with a certain degree of accuracy, the location of the dastardly Mr. X. There are other nuances to the game, of course, to spice things up further. For instance, taxis are the most versatile and accessible, however, they also take you the shortest distance while Underground stations are few and far between but can take you great distances when you do connect with one. Lastly, a ticket is consumed every time you move, and these tickets do not replenish consistently enough to ensure you can always take the mode you wish. This keeps things interesting, to say the least. If you choose to play Mr. X, you will always be able to see the location of the agents. Further, you have a limited number of double-move tickets you can use to get you out of tight spots, as well as black tickets, which don't reveal your chosen mode of movement to the agents. You're going to need all of these tools to avoid capture, however, because you will have up to 5 agents breathing down your neck in any given game.
While playing against the AI is convenient, playing against a human is really what board games are all about. Thankfully, Scotland Yard has all the bells and whistles you could ever ask for in this regard. It supports local (pass and play), WiFi, Bluetooth, and Game Center. It even supports voice chat to really make the gameplay interactive.
Scotland Yard has been polished to a high sheen. The gameboard is beautiful, and scrolls/zooms with ease. The game pieces are nicely animated, giving the game a slick finished feel without being distracting. What's more, the game screen is nicely organized and obviously designed around the concepts of ease of gameplay and common sense. My litmus test for this is simple; if I can remember where everything is and what it does after a single tutorial session, it's a winner. Scotland Yard passed this test with flying colors. Lastly, and surprisingly, Scotland Yard fully leverages the graphical capabilities of the new iPad. Yes, it's just a boardgame, but it's a darn pretty one.
I enjoyed the subtle sound effects and moody cat burglar music of Scotland Yard. Even after a few playthroughs, I left the volume up and the music on. For those of you haven't read any of my other reviews, be advised that this is high praise, indeed.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
This is an old school boardgame, and is full-featured and complete at the time of purchase. There are no IAPs.
If you are a fan of boardgames, Scotland Yard is likely to take up permanent residence on your device. It takes only minutes to learn, yet offers a great deal of replayability thanks to the two distinct roles available. The graphics are first-rate, the music and sound complement it perfectly, and it won't try to squeeze more money out of you in the form of IAPs.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - One of the very best looking boardgames available for iOS. Sound: - 4 - Very good sound effects and music. It didn't make me wish for headphones, but it's just not that type of game. Controls: - 5 - A great interface. Period. Well-organized and uncluttered. Gameplay: - 4 - It may not be for everybody but if you like boardgames, you'll enjoy Scotland Yard.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Play the tutorial and everything will make sense. For your first few playthroughs, play as an agent of Scotland Yard and leave the AI turned-on for the other four so you can watch what they do. Prior to starting the game, increase the duration of the game timer so you don't feel rushed.