Mini-review: Curling 3D proves surprisingly addictive

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This game had rather passed me by until I saw a) several relatives playing it for an hour straight, and b) that it was developed by the same team that created Table Tennis 3D (the clue was in the name, perhaps, though there are many copycat titles). Despite the fact that Curling is a very niche sport, the rules are simple yet the simulation/gameplay is always fluid and always interesting. Seconds to learn, a lifetime to master, that sort of thing...

Curling is a bowls-like winter sport (ok, ok, bowls is something of a niche sport too), but it's skillful and yet again Giraffe Games have managed to create an intuitive interface. Here's the blurb from the Store:

Beautiful Graphics, Intuitive Controls and Multiple modes of play make this the best Curling Game on mobile!

- Intuitive Controls that feel like playing real Curling. 
- Online Multiplayer League.
- Carrer mode!
- Leaderboards
- Play with your friends with Online Multiplayer!
- Be the best in online Curling Online League!

It's all very well done and you don't have to use any of the in-app purchases to play as an occasional, casual player. Here's a walkthrough, here showing me playing a random online (human) opponent, who can be on any mobile platform, it seems, the game's mechanisms talk across iOS, Android and Windows Phone:

Screenshot, Curling 3DScreenshot, Curling 3D

The game is presented in proper first person perspective, including moving down the virtual lane on your virtual skates, following the puck. We're not talking photo realism here, but there's plenty of detail to help you aim and play, and the portrait screen works very well for the shape of the '3D' lane; (right) choosing which country I'm about to play 'for'!

Screenshot, Curling 3DScreenshot, Curling 3D

Dragging the aiming arrow around adjusts both initial speed and direction, as you'd expect - I did say this was intuitive. While dragging the spin control left and right imparts as much spin as needed - in fact, far more than you can achieve in the real world, but move on, this is about as much strategic fun as possible; (right) tapping and holding on the screen starts your helpers scrubbing the ice with their brooms, in theory melting it a little and smoothing the path for your puck to travel further than your initial speed might otherwise result in....

Screenshot, Curling 3DScreenshot, Curling 3D

Behind all the actual curling is a real time model, based on daily and hourly bonuses, prizes and gifts - of the virtual currency and coins - the idea is to keep you coming back to the game and it works.

Screenshot, Curling 3DScreenshot, Curling 3D

A zoomed view lets you place a marker to aim at, though I found the aiming lines and some 'feel' were plenty when accuracy was paramount; (right) the highest price '1 on 1' tournament/tier.

Nicely pitched on the whole, this freemium game can be played completely for free if you stick with the lower tiers and/or are happy to work your way through the lesser AI players in 'career' mode. But the developers have got to make some money, and winning virtual money gives you enough to enter matches in the higher career tier or to play against online players in virtual matches of every increasing entry fee. As you can imagine, the more hooked you are on the game, the longer you play and the further you get and, at some point, you start needing extra virtual money, which is where the IAPs come in.

Any catches? Well, the IAPs don't say how much they cost, so you have to tap right through to the Store to find out. And, naturally enough with online gaming, if you start a match and then have to pause the game or stop using your phone (e.g. getting on a train) then you run the risk of your turn timing out and ultimately forfeiting the match and your entrance fee.

But very nicely done overall, you can grab this in the Windows Store here. The strategy of placing marker pucks and barriers and curving round obstacles and all the other finer points of Curling make for a fascinating mobile game. Surprisingly!

Source / Credit: Windows Phone Store