Free Running Android game just gives you the run-around

by Caitlin M. Foyt

Free Running for the Android platform isn't spectacular. In fact, you'd probably be better-suited downloading just about any other running game in the Android marketplace.

The concept of the running game is one that comes up a lot on Android. In this kind of game, you play as a character who is trying to run as far to the right side of the screen as possible, avoiding obstacles and death pits. Tap the bottom right side of the screen to jump and the bottom left to, depending upon the game, either roll, duck, or fire a punch. But, what tends to make these games interesting is the fact that each one has its own special theme.

For instance, in the game of Flying Panda, you are a docile panda that must navigate through a tiny village, collecting priceless jewels along the way. Based on the setting, it's clear the game is set in ancient China and that the panda is some kind of ninja. It's not the greatest running game in the marketplace by far, but the cute art style, sharp graphics and silly concept make the game fun and engaging.

The lack of all of these things is exactly why the game of Free Running isn't memorable. I found it hard to get behind the stick-figure character. Some might argue that the developers were trying to achieve a certain kind of style, but because the nature of the game is so simple, I'm under the impression that this wasn't really a decision based on a creative vision. It seemed more like a maneuver to cut corners.

The controls are also very poor. There's a slight delay between when you push the jump or roll buttons and when the character actually responds to these commands. This makes gameplay extremely frustrating because it's difficult to time the exact point when you need to make a move – and that's the whole point of the game.

One thing that's kind of neat about this game, however, is that you're given more wiggle room when it comes to making mistakes. Instead of being immediately killed when you bump into a square in the road, you're just pushed back toward the left side of the screen. You are given three goof-ups before you have to start over.

Another plus about Free Running is that you are rewarded when you manage to stay moving for longer periods of times. You may either build up a shield, which works like a free pass when you mess up, or you can get a boost, kind of like the equivalent to the star power-up in any Mario Bros. video game. These are both aspects that don't seem to pop up anywhere else, and they would be a welcomed improvement to other similar games.

This game is fun for a few minutes, and might suffice as a way to kill some time, but because it's so repetitive and unimaginative, Free Running becomes tired very quickly. There is no shortage of this kind of game in the marketplace, so you can, and should, spring for something that is at least a little bit more appealing to the eye.