One day, a Russian computer engineer and game designer named Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov created one of gaming's most iconic games of all time, and very high on the list of best games of all time. Tetris! All you would observe and hear in 1989 was Tetris on the Game Boy; the only reason we befriended Tetris owners was so we could sponge off of them and play it ourselves. Lol.
Many knockoff versions of the game have been released since then, some good, some great and some naff, but now with the celebration of the 30th Anniversary, we get an everything you need in Tetris game!! Tetris Ultimate!! Well... Not really, sadly. What you have is a Tetris game with sharp graphics, bright colours, and great gameplay but there's nothing to compliment its background, including our favourite music from the past, themes and every game mode possible. Then on the tin we see the transcription which reads, "Ubisoft"… Oh...no...!!
Believe it or not, in the chaotic mess Ubisoft have been causing through out 2014, they have managed to find a way to break Tetris!! TETRIS!! Something so simple that even a calculator could run it without a sweat! The online features implemented in the game, which were boasted to bring people together, are completely broken, making the game almost unfunctionable online.
I'm going off topic a bit now, so I'm going to try and explain this as best as I can from a game design perspective, hardcore gamer perspective and casual perspective. This game is fantastic as Tetris should be, and I absolutely love it, but there are glaring technical issues which pull the game down underwater to drown. I am also very aware that this game can change, and I plan to update the review if problems are cleaned up. If you're not going anywhere and can sit for a while to read, or you're curious about the game, or you're as bored as hell, then pull out a chair and get cozy. Let us review Tetris Ultimate!!GAMEPLAY (9/10): "Almost Perfect!"
The only thing to spoil the gameplay is the fact the game has a non-existent hidden tutorial to show you the controls, play the game modes or to understand what to do, unless you look at the Microsoft FAQ of the game... and you cannot remap the keys. Otherwise, it is flawless!
The goal of Tetris is to break down a horizontal line of blocks pieced together with different shapes which fall from the top of the screen. They can be rotated to fit within the right spot using
. The lines will not disappear if there are any gaps within the lines, then the shapes will begin to pile up to the top of the screen, making it more challenging to clean up the board before it gets to the very top, resulting in a topping out (game over
To help gain your bearings during your struggle, you can press the
to keep hold of a falling piece, ready to be summoned encase a perfect fit comes your way. If you already have a piece reserved, you will swap it out with the current piece falling. You can also fast drop a piece into place with the
, though be careful with this as it can have a habit of placing more than one piece at a time, which can be very annoying, causing you to think fast to clean up the mess!
This is pretty much the mechanics of Tetris, and it runs perfectly! Well... almost... For one you can no longer spam the rotation button to prevent your shape from locking down as it now sits on an unpredictable timer before it force-locks the piece down, which doesn't help much when tackling the game at a very fast pace. You were able to do this in Tetris Splash solo. I guess we were spoilt in that game.
Now for the game modes which each have their own twist to the gameplay, for better or worse.Marathon Mode:
This is the legacy of Tetris! In this mode you need to break down 10 horizontal lines to progress through the mode. You must make it to level 15 and take down in total 150 lines. It sounds simplistic if you're a cautious player, but it gets rather interesting when each time you level up destroying 10 lines, the pace of the game increases giving you less time to plan your moves and move your shapes. What becomes a calm puzzle can send you into panic making this a serious challenge to beat! This mode is an absolute blast, challenging your friends to see who can get there first, although it usually turns out that you all get wasted on Level 10. Endless Mode:
This mode is not accessible until you defeat Marathon mode, which is insanely hard!! This mode is exactly like Marathon mode, except the game doesn't end until you have been defeated. You cannot resume where you left off if you decide to quit, so you have to plough through as much as you can. Not a relaxation mode in the slightest. LolSprint Mode:
In this mode you need to destroy 40 lines as fast as you can without getting filled up to the top. The pacing is not modified in any way letting you go at your own speed. A great mode to boast against your friends, so you have to get your competitive head on!Ultra Mode:
Much like Sprint mode except you have 3 minutes to score as much as you possibly can! Again, best played against players and friends. Battle Mode:
Battle makes a friendly game turn into a battle of survival. Every lane you clear is a lane that is going to be sent to one of your enemies. You have a red meter to the right side of your interface to show the level of danger you are in and how high the pile of rubbish is going to be when you place your next move. Once placed, your work area is polluted and is reaching closer to the top of the screen. You will need to think fast, act fast and stay calm to be the last (wo)man standing.Battle Ultimate Mode:
This is exactly the same as Battle Mode, except you can use power-ups to change the effects of the game, such as raining garbage of foes, moving the grid 1 step to the left upon every turn, etc.
If you wish to juice up all of these game modes, you can play as a team of 2v2 or even play in co-op mode. If you work together with a buddy, you will both share a wide Matrix (work area
) but you both have half of the space to work with. You have to make an even wider line than before if you want to score, communicating with your partner. This can build tension between the two of you, creating great teamwork or stressful panic.
There are many game modes the Tetris franchise has had, not all of them are included in this package, but for your money's worth you get a great deal here! Striving to become a Tetris master comes straight back to you after the retirement almost all of us took from the Game Boy days. You may find the controls a bit alienating, clumsy and downright questionable, but you will quickly adapt and rekindle the play style you once knew.
Not to mention that more game modes are to be released soon in the future, which is something to look forward to (unless it's paid DLC...
). In a nutshell gameplay-wise, it functions exactly like it used to. You may need to dust yourself off if you haven't played for years and grow with the controls of the Xbox One as opposed to using a handheld console, or if you're new you will grow into the swing of Tetris very fast.
Getting a bunch of friends over to play together on the couch locally brings a great party experience, especially family, playing this with your wife/husband/kids/etc. All is great and more than dandy locally offline... However, things plummet straight downhill once online...MULTIPLAYER ONLINE: 2/10 "Unworkable!"
If anything, the trailers and hype of Tetris Ultimate boasted online multiplayer. To play along side 1-3 other players in a race/fight/team effort to the finish, giving you the sense that you are never alone in the world of puzzling, and are included in a friendly/competitive party, much like Bejeweled Blitz except you can see what your competition is doing as you play! Cool right? Well it is!...when it actually works... Which it doesn't...
Tetris suffers from problems with its servers which are somewhat kind enough to give you an estimate on how long it will take to matchmake with other players on the interface. On average it usually doesn't take long to matchmake with someone on any video game. The only thing you can point your finger at is either http://support.xbox.com
which we inevitably run to to check when we get a bad online experience, or reset our routers at home, but it is a real eye opener watching a game trying to matchmake you with absolutely nothing!! FOR 7 MINUTES - 21 HOURS ON AVERAGE!!!! If you have the extreme patience to stick around, you will either be greeted with a "Lost connection to the matchmaking" or be pitted against a gamer's Tetris Self. Which brings us onto the next issue!The Tetris Self Drivatar-wannabe problems:
Ubisoft announced that like the Forza 5's "drivatar" system, you will be able to match-make with other gamer's AI that picks up the patterns and play styles of their representative gamers, giving you the feeling that you are never truly alone, that there is a bit of soul within your AI competition called the Tetris Self. However, there is one fatal problem... IT'S COMPLETELY BROKEN!!!
Rather than it tracking your entire performance as a gamer, it only tracks one single statistic, speed. The law of Tetris that every player must follow is to be calm and cautiously match up a line, which you cannot break, or else that's like playing Call of Duty not being allowed to shoot or use your knife when you have to kill an enemy. Because Tetris is so basic, it's very hard to study any other behavioural activity. As a result the only difference you will tell between a real player and a player's AI is that the AI will always beat you, fast or slow with impossible odds that no one can muster.
Usually when you encounter a broken or glitchy play-style coming from an AI, you have to adapt and come up with an opposite or exploit to counter the behaviours of it to stand a chance. It's not always the right thing to do, but there can be a very fun charm to it. Unfortunately, like most AI in a puzzle or a board game, you will never surpass their performance or ever counter their moves they place, as they predict every possible move within a millisecond and unrealistically crush you! It's like trying to set a puddle on fire!! Even the most expert of Tetris players will call bulls*** on their Tetris Self opponents...
In order to tell whether you are playing against a Tetris Self is that their gamertag has a little blue cloud underneath their name. If you are playing against a real player and he/she quits out midway, the game will tell you they have been disconnected and replaced with their AI, which funnily enough destroys you!
There are barely any leaderboards to challange youself and your friends, the leaderboards are backwards as in the slowest time is rank number 1 (I know... How did this happen?!
The only saving grace is inviting your friends over Live into your game to play a private session together, otherwise online connecting and gaming is a total mess. It is very difficult to comprehend how something as simplistic as Tetris could be brought out like a cooked lobster that is still alive! But knowing Ubisoft, my theory is steering towards the Uplay feature, which in the past has broken many games including Watchdogs, Tom Clancy games, etc...Uplay: 0/10 "Hateful!!"
Being Ubisoft, they managed to stuff in their DRM system, Uplay, which makes Tetris a brick product if you don't connect online, even if you wish to play locally offline.
One thing you may notice the first time you check out the rewards menu in the game is that Uplay contains some "unlockable content", such as music and a Tetris theme. The only way to nab yourself these "juicy" prizes (not to mention essential assets of sodding Tetris
) is to sign up to Uplay and earn it's very own achievements list to spend it's own gamerscore on unlocking the content.
Right… Now either I'm expecting too much for an anniversary "Everything Tetris you can dream of", or we've just been slapped in the face with a corporate business tactic to try and nab more traffic into their site. It looks like at a glance they've locked in-game content from you unless you sign up and make an account with Uplay.
Now you could fairly argue stating, "Just sign up and get it over with, then never use it again
", until you discover that signing up to this causes game-breaking problems immediately! Rather than interacting within the game to check out in-game content, you are violently dragged out to be launched into the Uplay app, farting security warnings in your face upon your load. The game breaker comes in when you realise that you cannot navigate through the app on Tetris itself and try to escape (trust me... You will try...
) closing the app down, when your xbox interface shortly freezes and never recovers unless you force a restart! If you have your Xbox One set to instant-on mode, you will need to turn your plug off by the wall to escape the crash!!
If you 'buy' the unlockable content, you will discover that it's not even for the game!!! It's for the Uplay service to download the mp3s or wallpapers on your computer!! AND THEY SUCK!!! A massive misleading punch in the face goes to the bell-end that thought this was a good idea!! It is highly advised that you never sign on within the Uplay service and keep rejecting the prod it gives you every time you load the game up. It is nothing but a hateful pile of weight that tries to cling onto Tetris to please the suits at Ubisoft!GRAPHICS (7/10): "Colourfully simple"
Now to answer the question for the resolution whores out there, this game runs at 1080p at 60 frames a second. The graphics are pretty simplistic and smooth, nice clean lines, vibrant colours of the Tetris blocks and the fonts are readable. There is nothing daring going on with the graphic design in the game. It's just basic, and thats just what Tetris is.
The menu interface however is very boring, laggy and clumsily designed. You may not get the information you need unless you squint read to hunt for the hidden info wherever it may be placed. Like I've stated earlier in the game, artistic themes from all of the Tetris games would have been a wish, but who knows... We may get that someday, but I digress.MUSIC: (2/10) "Garbage"
Unless you have been living under a rock (or you have a life
), Tetris has some of the most iconic music in gaming history, memorable songs which you can't resist bopping your head to. There have been incredible remixes
and orchestral scores
of these songs, screaming epic-ness, memories and passion for the Tetris series. Tetris Splash for example also had a great soundtrack with lots of energy, colour and charm. It is difficult to say this about a game of Tetris which is known for head-bopping tunes, but... this game's soundtrack is dreadful!
There are only 2 tracks in the entire game, which display that no effort has been made at all with this game's developers. If I were to describe it into words, it's like listening to the sounds of the void within a SNES nightmare on a next gen console plague your experience with an unfitting lack of flow to keep you inspired to play well. You may hear the faint tunes of Type A and B within the shallow nothingness that will only hurt you more as a fan, like it wants to get out, but can't. It is best to turn off the music completely, including the menu music which sits on an annoying 10 second loop, letting you focus more on the game.GLITCHES (5/10): "A few major game killers!!"
* There is a very infamous glitch of the game operating at 0.5-3 frames a second on any platform due to the fact you may have a lot of people on your friendslist. The only way to not experience this unplayable mess is to play locally until the game is patched.
* Like I've stated earlier in the review, Uplay has the destructive power to completely kill your console! Don't ever use it or download the app on your system! You will give it cancer!!
* The introduction screen of Ubisoft is darkened out? And it repeats itself twice? What?!
* The challenge completed badge rewards may not display that you've completed them, forcing you to go back and check in the awards menu.
* Trying to play online matchmaking will more than likely crash the game, ejecting you back to the dashboard.
* When matchmaking, if you dashboard, the game will notify you that the match is ready, despite nothing has happened.
* Progression for your adges doesn't always count.ACHIEVEMENTS (3/10): "A wasted opportunity"
Each achievement has 3 requirements to unlock them. Some range from easy, but later become more luck based and damn near unrealistic to reach. For example, Complete 3,000 T Spins (twisting a t shape into the side to make a line
), Get a 20-Combo (quickly taking out 20 lines in a row
), Beat Co-op Marathon (...Just...no...
), etc. Of course the list is catering to the hardcore Tetris Masters, but it is leaving out those who aren't exactly great. Rather than pick an alternative like grinding points naturally, going at your own pace instead of making endless love with lady luck, you will have to be against all the odds and sacrifice a lot of time practicing to truly earn the gamerscore. If you are not committed, you have no chance earning anything. Not to mention there is no progression bar to keep an eye on or tally list to keep track of to see how close you re t getting a badge.
The Hardcore may thrive but others may be very intimidated by the list. Also why didn't they at least make every requirement its own achievement? We could have had at least 55 rather than a pathetic 12!! Personally, it sucks... Especially when the cap has grown and you can do so much more, but sadly, no creativity is in the achievements list. VERDICT / CONCLUSION: "A game with the worst foster parents ever..."
Currently there is a lot of promise waiting to be released within this game's lifespan, more game modes, etc. We received exactly what we expected from Tetris in the flesh, but it also came with a bunch of washed up decisions which should have been revised before the big release, especially for this occasion as it is Tetris' 30th anniversary! Such as having every game mode possible on there, functioning match-making, themes and including all of the Tetris music available! How can you not have Type A, Type B and Type C in a Tetris Game!?!?
Ubisoft's reputation has gone haywire within 2014, releasing completely broken train-wrecks of games, damage controlling their shady business tactics, and hiring possibly the worst tech engineers in the gaming industry. It does show when you try to play this game, especially online (god bless you if you can get into a game with an actual person
). I don't think the developers SoMa Play were responsible for the servers issues and certainly not Uplay, especially with what Ubisoft does as a corporation and what their shady history suggests...
Tetris is one of the best and most infamous games of all time which brought the fun into puzzle gaming, and still continues to do so (excluding the diet Tetris games back in the day...
). The price tag for this game is a great price for what the game has to offer you, except this game seriously needs solid patching before it continues to grow bigger for us Tetris lovers. I personally didn't even think it was possible to f*** up Tetris in the slightest, but Ubisoft amazed the world once again.
Mind you, the game-breaking bugs and glitches are avoidable if you can restrain yourself playing online, but it can ruin your experience as a newcomer and veteran, not to mention party match-making is what makes gaming miles better. If you want to get back into Tetris and haven't been on it since the Game Boy times and play with/against your buddies, grab this game and enjoy yourselves! Just be warned though that if you plan to play online and matchmake, the game is very buggy with game crashing problems, console crashing problems and interface implosions. If you are new to the Tetris world and want to give it a try, I recommend you hold off until this game is polished in the future, or else you'll receive a rather dodgy first impression, unless you know what you're getting yourself into responsibly.
5 out of 10 pains me so... But the bugs weigh down the score of an otherwise fantastic classic restored into next gen. I will certainly revise the review in the future when patches are released which I'm sure they will be. The score can only climb higher. God forbid it drops like Bungie's sinking ship that is Destiny. Lol