Remember the gaming revenue thing I reported on last week? Well, according to App Annie, Zynga’s Running With Friends screamed into the Top 10 iOS Downloads for May, and as such I figured I’d see what all the fuss is about.
It probably won’t surprise you to hear that Running With Friends is an endless runner spliced with Zynga’s obligatory social element, but is it a recipe for delicious success, or a marriage made in the fires of hell?
Well, its appearance in the Top Downloads certainly suggests the former (delicious success), but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any good. Just look at S Club 7.
As per Zynga tradition, Running With Friends games play out in pairs over three rounds, and you can search for opponents via Facebook or email, or play a total random – roughly matched to your ability.
The runs themselves are fairly typical of the genre; avoid obstacles, collect stars, swipe up to jump, swipe down to slide, swipe left and right to turn corners; but it’s actually implemented really well. Feels good.
There’s plenty going on, too, with fellow runners (including, neatly, ghosts of your opponents), bales of hay, crates, police cars, buses, and bulls running in both directions.
The Running With Friends tutorial is fairly thorough, though experimentation is required to fully understand the various hazards. For example, bumping into a fellow runner makes you stumble, but you can slide through them for bonus coinage. Likewise, you can jump on bulls’ backs.
And that, in a nutshell, is Running With Friends the game. As for the social aspect, it serves to both boost and hinder proceedings.
On one hand, playing against people (directly; not just on faceless leaderboards) means there’s a point in Running With Friends; something to aim for.
But conversely, it can be annoying having to wait for your opponents to take their turn. Sometimes you just want to run, and there’s no single player/practise mode.
Having said that, you can have a silly number of games on the go at the one time, and there’s no shortage of players out there.
And perhaps more importantly, the runs are thoroughly enjoyable. I really like the cartoon-style presentation, and it’s worth mentioning the suitably Spanish Running With Friends soundtrack, too. Good stuff.
A few other elements suggest a lot of thought has gone into the game, such as the ability to buy avatars and stuff. True, they’re expensive and Zynga is ultimately out for coin, but if you don’t want ‘em, don’t buy ‘em.
Incidentally, you can play for free, or upgrade to remove ads for the entirely reasonable price of £2.49.
Yeah, I think I like Running With Friends.
- The runs are good
- The social aspect is (mostly) good
- Looks and sounds great
- Can be irksome waiting for opponents
- It’s another endless runner
- Uhm... pretty hard, I guess
Summary: Running With Friends muscles in on the crowded endless runner genre, justifying its existence with Zynga’s traditional social, turn-based mechanics, and – more importantly – by being good.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 5.0 or later. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.