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Scotland Yard

For:   Also on: iPhoneiPad
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Arrested development

Product: Scotland Yard | Publisher: Ravensburger Digital | Format: iPhone | Genre: Card/ board game | Players: 1 | File size: 65.3MB | Version: Europe | App version: 1.01
Scotland Yard iPhone, thumbnail 1
Since the arrival of iPad, it's been pretty clear that boardgames and iOS make great bedfellows.

Cult Euro titles like Carcassone and Ticket to Ride have already made a splash in the mainstream thanks to iOS devices, so it's no surprise that popular boardgame publishers like Ravensburger want in on the action too.

Scotland Yard is Ravensburger's fondly remembered game of hardcore sleuthing, where detectives roam above and below the streets of central London in search of the elusive Mister X. One player takes control of the criminal mastermind while up to five additional players attempt to deduce his whereabouts.

Each detective receives 22 ticket cards at the start of each game, enabling him to move between taxi, bus, and underground stops on the board.

Mister X, meanwhile, has access to each detective's spent tickets, as well as additional cards that obscure his chosen mode of transportation and give access to water bus routes along the Thames. Mister X wins automatically once all detectives have run out of cards.

Hide and Seek

Obviously, that severely stacks the odds in his favour -particularly since Mister X's position on the board is only ever revealed five times during a game.

There are only two ways to capture him, too - either land on the spot he's currently occupying or surround him so that escape is impossible. That means detectives must co-ordinate their routes carefully, attempting to predict Mister X's movement through logical deduction in order to win.

Needless to say, it's a heavily cerebral boardgame, with a pursuit and evasion setup that requires plenty of planning. It's not the most immediately accessible game out there, though Ravensburger has done a great job of ushering newcomers into its world with a reasonably comprehensive series of tutorials.

In fact, it's a slick package all round, delivering an intuitive, streamlined touchscreen experience alongside pin-sharp Retina display graphics and a host of options that permit everything from single-player games against AI to online Game Center play.

Criminal masterminds

The problem is, as impressive a digital conversion as Scotland Yard is, several issues conspire to make it an incredibly difficult game to enjoy. Single-player matches are hampered by dim-witted AI players that frequently skew the challenge from one extreme to another.

It's hard to get a decent online game, too, with Game Center frequently struggling to find enough players for a round of sleuthing.

As slick as Scotland Yard's online functionality might be - it even delivers voice chat so detectives can work together - it's not much cop if you're effectively forced to go solo. Indeed, about the easiest way to guarantee a proper multiplayer match is to gather willing participants around a single iOS device, making the supposed convenience of this digital version pretty redundant.

With better AI and a more robust online experience, Scotland Yard could be up there with the cream of iOS boardgame conversions. As it stands, you may end up letting Mr X get away.
Scotland Yard
Reviewer photo
Matt Wales | 6 June 2012
A slick adaption of a classic boardgame that's hampered by poor AI and dodgy online matchmaking, making it far too tough to enjoy with any consistency
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