Tetris Battle on Facebook: Just one more line...
There's much to be said of that "in-the-zone" feeling that rushes over you as you obliterate line after neon line of digital blocks. Even if you don't remember it consciously, you played Tetris at least once in your life. Seriously, the game's everywhere. There is no way you could have missed it. Unless, you were raised in some weird M. Night Shyamalan situation. Fear not, because Tetris Battle on Facebook takes the iconic Russian puzzler, throws in a blazing multiplayer component, and brings all your friends into the world of furious fingers, vibrantly colored blocks and intense cerebral battles. In case you just now pinched yourself: Tetris is on Facebook, and it's just as addictive and gripping 25 years later.
However, the game is not without its flaws. Since this game was developed in Flash, it's subject to skipping, lagging and whatever else might slow down your game as a result of Flash underperforming. As you'll find out, Tetris Battle requires a great amount of reflex and speed, meaning that you'll have to adjust accordingly to the mischievous whims of Flash. That minor to devastating issue aside, Tetris Flash is more than deserving of its already 2.1 million monthly players.
Oddly enough, the greatest thing about Tetris Battle isn't the gameplay or art style--it's the social features. The developers at Tetris nailed the idea behind social games by not limiting your potential opponents to friends. The game sports an almost instant random matchmaking system, the lynch pin of which is the player ratings. The more matches players win, the higher they increase in rank. Each rank has five stars, and if you reach five stars in a rank, you're given the option to move onto the next bracket in the ladder or to hang back for a bit with the lowbies. Each time you lose a match, you will lose a star, thus keeping those who aren't ready to progress inside the bracket that fits their skills best. No matchmaking system in any game is perfect, but this one damn well close.
You also increase in level as you win matches, which unlocks new things to buy in the game's shop with coins (also earned from winning matches) and Tetris Cash, the paid currency around here. Players can buy cosmetic items that change the color and texture of the tetriminoes and the ghosts that appear above your lines. However, players can also purchase improvements to their abilities such as faster drop speeds and movement, but they're level-locked to even the playing field.
The game features two modes governed by a two-minute timer: two-player battle and six-player battle. However, there is also a third mode called Sprint four-player, which pits four players against one another in a race to clear 40 lines. But back to the two battle modes. These two styles of gameplay revolve around surviving for two minutes while making your opponents' lives a living hell. This dastardly deed is done through clearing more than one line at once or rapidly clearing lines, both of which cause "garbage lines" to crop up underneath the opponent's blocks. Fortunately, dropping a single block on the bomb portion of the garbage line will clear it instantly.
However, playing on the defensive will get you nowhere as the amount of lines sent across to your enemy is what decides the victor. While the game's matchmaking appears to be asynchronous--you can prematurely end Sprint and six-player battle matches if you lose early, showing the results--at least you're playing against AI that somewhat matches the players' skills. Regardless of this and the inherent performance issues some suffer with Flash, Tetris Battle has a seat right up with Bejeweled Blitz and Zuma Blitz as one of the most engaging, entertaining Facebook games you'll play this year.
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