October 4th, 2008, 17:19 Posted By: Darksaviour69
Format: Xbox LIVE® Arcade
Price 800 Microsoft points
Release Date: September 17, 2008
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Genre: Card & Board
Remember "top-selling" XBLA game Texas Hold 'Em? That was actually a pretty good game. So now TikGames have come out with Domino Master, "bringing the fun and challenge of this classic party game to Xbox LIVE for the first time" as quoted from the press release. Problem is, unlike Texas Hold 'Em, Dominoes is actually a really boring and unskillful game.
The problem is Dominos has very little strategy in it, its mostly random and out of your control. Basically tactics are based on 2 factors, getting rid of you highest number Dominoes for damage control if you lose the round or play the domino that will give the more options for the next turn, which of course can be spoiled by the other player placing his domino so really you can't plan ahead. But then most of the time you can only play the one domino anyway, so it all becomes pointless. Things only get interesting when you play the other variants such as "All 5s" and "All 3s" were scoring gets more complex, which involves trying to get multiples of 5 or 3 (depending on the game) to score more point, which does ad a little (and I do mean little) tactical edge to the game. Bergen is similar only your trying to match numbers at each end of the layout of Dominos . But in the end there's just not the same tactical depth as other card games on XBLA (like TikGames own Texas Hold 'Em).
Of all the game modes Mexican Train is the most interesting, and most complex. In this game mode the game splits play into different tracks, with each player having their own line of Dominos that only they can add to as well as a communal one, which opens up the game and gives you more options each turn compared to the other game modes, but still there are many turns were you can only do one move or nothing, after a while its can seem draw out and very boring, and considering the default is 12 rounds which took me well over an hour to finish one game!
TikGames have tried to spice the game up with the presentation. The Dominoes are in 3d and jump/bounce as there are set down, when a winning or scoring domino is slammed down, all the tiles jump, which is a nice effect. Unfortunately its the same background for most of the game bar Mexican Train has a nice wild west theme. But really there is only so much you can polish a.... game with fundamentally boring gameplay.
What about online? well its about the same as playing against the AI only AI does not take 5-10mins to start a game, and does not quit half way thought the game. Also considering there where only 4300 people on the leader board at the time of writing, if anything its going to get harder to find a game.
In the end I don't think TikGames have done a bad job, its just Dominos is not a great game to start of with, and there is only so much you can do with it. And ultimately the problem with Dominos, is that you can lose easily though no fault of your own. But what is shocking is the price, 800 MS points, that twice as Gin Rummy which is a far better casual game.
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