I hate laying puzzles, and I at times loathe my passion for solitaire games. This love/hate relationship has never been fully explored until now. Carcassonne is a combination of these two types of time wasters. The puzzle aspect rears it’s ugly face in form of the limited types of pieces to place on the board. The solitaire aspect is all about clearing the puzzle before you run out of pieces. It sounds like a simple game, and to some even like a boring one at that. Let me tell you right now that Carcassonne is far from boring, actually it has become one of the most involving games I have ever played on my iPhone.
Ok, I need to back it up just a bit here as I have not mentioned that there are a number of different game modes that play completely different. The normal game mode can be played either against eight different AI players or multiplayer over internet or Bluetooth/local network. The normal game is a all about creating lands, towns and roads that you tag with your colour. It is turn-based, and this is a perfect way to play against your friends over the internet. It comes with push notifications helping you remember that you have a move to make. There is a limited number of pieces available, and you don’t get to choose the order they appear in. Once there are no pieces left the game ends, and the game calculates the final score. This is a fun mode, and the AI is moderately quick in making it’s moves. Playing against players over the internet is as quick as the humans behind their screens. One thing that bothers me somewhat is that if you have more than one device connected to the same account the game can’t really handle it. I have both my iPhone and iPad connected, and if I have spent a day playing on my iPhone the game forces me to see all the moves made when I start up the iPad later that evening. This is a function that I would have liked an off button for.
The second mode is solitaire, and it challenges you in a completely different way. For each tile you place you get your score deducted. You have to create roads, and towns the size the game indicates. Starting with size of two tiles each, the larger you build the larger the demands. Once a road of six tiles, and town of six tiles have been laid out the game is over. The higher score left he better. Of course the game also ends when you are out of pieces completely, but the score will be meagre. I found this mode extremely fun, and the fact that there are set variations that you can play over and over to perfect your strategy is nice. Once you set a good score you can challenge a friend by sending an email. I am completely hooked on the solitaire aspect, and the game is really worth the price of admission solely because of it.
The presentation is top notch with great attention to detail. The music and sound effects are well made, and you are also free to play your own music. The tutorial is fully voice acted, and even though it slows the proceedings down it is rather slick. Carcassonne is a perfect rendition of the real life board game.
The final rating for Carcassonne is close to the coveted five stars. Some aspects need to be tweaked such as the play replays when using multiple devices. It is also rather cumbersome to play both the solitaire mode and normal mode simultaneously. You have to pause the current game, and then go back to start the other game mode from the main menu. Speeding up the interface would certainly be on my wish list for the next update.
At the current price of $4.99 there is no reason not to get into Carcassonne. The developer has promised an universal update to come making the game better for the iPad. At that point the price will go up so grab it now. With both online multiplayer with push notifications, and an addictive solitaire game Carcassonne is a complete package.