Pettington Park: The battle of cats vs dogs also includes bugs
After learning that Loot Drop had partnered with Zynga to release Pettington Park on Google+, the cats vs dogs game suddenly jumped pretty high onto our collective radar. Now that we've had a chance to play the game for ourselves, it's sad to say that this is one social game that has more "problems" than it simply being just on Google+ (which seems to be a problem in and of itself).
The core mechanics of Pettington Park are all sound. You'll choose to align yourself with either cats or dogs and can create a feline or canine avatar for yourself that can be customized with a limited selection of clothing and accessory items. These animals can talk and will even carry on conversations through cutscenes, but they text-only setup makes them run on for far too long, as you can't manually skip ahead when you've read the text on the screen, but must wait for the game to decide to move on automatically. That issue aside, the gist of the story sees an ongoing battle for supremacy being carried out on a weekly basis between cats and dogs, with players being able to combine their own efforts with all other players on their same side, and then compare those with the efforts of all players on the other team. This is done through a combination of park (or city) building and mini-games.
The mini-games are found in arcade cabinets that can dot your park's landscape, with each taking just a few minutes (at most) to play. One sees you dropping soccer-ball-pattern shapes onto a soccer field to make matches of three or more like shapes or colors, while another is a take on Plinko, as you drop acorns from the sky that will bounce off of tree branches and other obstacles and eventually give you points depending on the point zone they land in on the ground.
Back in your park, you'll complete an ongoing series of quests by manually walking around and talking to the non-player characters that also populate your game. These quests might ask you to purchase specific decorations or buildings for your park (most help increase your scores in mini-games with passive bonus qualities), or chop down trees and clear out other debris so that you can eventually move onto other areas and play new games. Unfortunately, the frame rate is fairly horrible throughout, with slow movements that stutter as you navigate your park or play games. The game's overall loading times are also quite lengthy, with everything from simply having the game load in your browser to waiting for your decorations to load or the store to populate taking far longer than they should (even when using Google Chrome, coincidentally enough). Furthermore, there are click recognition issues that force you to click on a specific item more than once before the game actually registers that you've done so.
Whether these issues speak more to the game's specific setup or to how these complex games run on Google+ in general is up for debate, but this writer personally wonders how much better (if any) the game would play back on Facebook... and how much more popular it would eventually be with so many more players up for grabs.
In this initial version of the game, there seems to be enough potential to warrant a second look sometime down the line (after the game's many technical issues have - hopefully - already been resolved), but if you're looking for a game to immediately sink your proverbial teeth into, you might want to pass on Pettington Park.
Click here to play Pettington Park on Google+ --->
Have you tried Pettington Park on Google+? Do you think the game will survive on the much less popular Google+ network, or will it be forced to move to Facebook? Sound off in the comments.