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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Date or Ditch

License: Free
Price: Free


At the time of writing it's very close to Valentine's Day - an opportune time for Gameloft to bring us Date or Ditch. After all, with romance at the forefront of the minds what else could you possibly want than a game about pulling members of the opposite sex and quizzes that determine whether or not you're a good kisser?

So, for the romantic among you here's what Date or Ditch entails. You begin the game at a singles bar in control of either a male or female character. This is where the chatting up begins, when you bump into a likely potential partner on your way to the toilet.

Although it doesn't end there, because your character turns out to be quite the Lothario, managing to bag quite a few suitors throughout the course of the game. At the end, of course, they all find out about one another and you make a choice, which impacts on the ending of your game.

Chatting up other characters is what makes up the majority of the game. Date or Ditch uses a simple conversation system where you're given three answers to any question or predicament and have to choose the one you think will go down best.

When you're talking to Mark the animal-loving vet for example, saying you'll cook him a nice steak isn't going to be the most welcome reply.

A 'Love Bar' at the top of the screen keeps a track of how well you're doing - choosing the best answer increases it, an inappropriate one decreases it and the remaining one usually doesn't move it either way.

In order to successfully get through a conversation, you need to finish with the bar as high as possible. If it drops too low or you do something completely wrong, the level ends and you start again.

As is normally key to the types of games that rely on a story and a lot of text, the quality of the writing is paramount to how good the game ends up. Fortunately Date or Ditch hits a high standard.

Crucially, its story is completely enjoyable right to the end, and there's plenty of broad-reaching humour.

What sounds like a bit of a lame dating game is actually a light-hearted and relatively funny adventure more than capable of capturing your attention for the couple of hours it takes to progress from start to finish.

At the end of each level you unlock a new quiz - the standard types of things you'd find in any girls' monthly magazine desperate to quickly fill a page or two. They're not particularly enlightening, but they do keep things bright and breezy.

There's no danger of being told at the end you have all the social graces of Paul Gascoigne at a party with a free bar, even if you admit most of the conversations you've had with someone you fancy have started with a stammer and ended with you bursting into tears.

The only real criticism to hit Date or Ditch with is that it doesn't deliver quite the amount of gameplay initially implied. Explore to find Love Tokens, the game tells you, but there are very few moments in the game when you're allowed control of your character to explore.

Despite environments looking good and, sometimes, being packed with other characters, you don't get to wander about and talk to any of them and the game is a far more linear experience for it.

It's also a shorter experience, although there is the option to play through multiple times to check out different outcomes and endings. In reality, it's unlikely many will since you'll be re-reading a lot of the same stuff over again.

Ultimately though, Date or Ditch is still a slick and humorous game for anyone who fancies a love-themed chuckle-intensive couple of hours entertainment.