Tetris Ultimate (XB1) Review

Ken McKown

Drop it like it’s a tetromino.

No console is complete without a version of Tetris in its library. Ubisoft has finally filled that gap for PS4 and XB1 with their latest entry in the series, Tetris Ultimate. While these $400 machines are not going to destroy anyone’s expectations of the tetromino-dropping simulator, it is nice to finally have the classic addiction available for my shiny new consoles. Tetris Ultimate takes the classic formula, tosses in some new social features, and even attempts to bring a little diversity to the table, but in the end the result is still an addictive collection of line-clearing madness.

Tetris Ultimate is a compilation of all things old and new. The classic endless mode is here, but tucked away behind arbitrary unlocks. This is sorely disappointing as those looking to play classic Tetris are denied right out of the gate. The modes open for business include Marathon, Sprint, and Ultra. The Battle mode is also available for those looking to throw down the gauntlet.

Yep, that’s Tetris.

MSRP: $9.99
Platforms: XB1, PS4
Price I’d Pay: $9.99
Multiplayer: Local and Online

Each mode has its own unique identity, and some are much more enjoyable than others. Marathon pits players against all odds dropping increasingly faster blocks as levels progress. This mode took me down every time. I suck at pressure.

Sprint involves clearing 40 lines in as little time as possible. This is a little more laid back, and the goal is to keep getting better times. Ultra is again a time-based mode, but this time it is all about score. Racking up points as fast I could in three minutes is addicting, but I still wish Endless mode was unlocked from the get-go.

Battle mode was the most fun as I could play with friends or AI opponents. There is also a co-op mode to drop lines with friends. There is a lot of core content to be found, and it all feels streamlined and well-produced. Leader boards are addictive, and it has that score-chasing mentality with my friends much like Trials or Geometry Wars.

Tetris is an impossible series to innovate on. It has been around so long that it feels like everything has been attempted. The team does bring a few neat options to the fray though. For example, I could now tweak the mechanics of the game, such as being able to disable stocking pieces for later use, changing the randomization of the blocks and tweaking the settings for late spins once the piece has dropped. They are subtle, but can lead to some interesting rule sets.

Yep, still Tetris.

The online portion of the game suffers from a bit of lag, to the point where I rarely bothered to fool with it. Thankfully Ubisoft has added a sort of shot AI mode called “Tetris Self” that learned how I played and also let me download my friends’ versions to play against locally. While not the same, it is a cool idea, and much more tolerable than attempting to play online.

Tetris hasn’t changed much over the years, but it is always a sign that a generation has started when an iteration finally lands on that console. XB1 and PS4 owners finally have the classic puzzle game on their platforms, albeit with a lack of explanation on new features, and some online lag. Still this is Tetris, and those looking for that experience will not be disappointed.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Good

  • Tweaking game mechanics
  • Lots of ways to play

Bad

  • Not much new
  • Online lag
6

Decent

Ken McKown
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.
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