Pick Up and Play have brought out the first online first person shooter for iPhone with the originally titled ‘iFPS’. The game offers a Quake 3: Arena style experience with three arenas to choose from, and up to 4 players can duel it out locally and, for the first time, online. After a quick practice session against some computer controlled bots, I entered an online game against a few real players. I was completely pwned! During the practice session I had no problems at all with the controls, and found it relatively easy to dispense of the bots. But once I got online the turning seemed sluggish and sometime completely unresponsive. I blamed this on lag, but after rebooting my iPhone I found the lag disappeared online and I even produced my first deathmatch victory against what looked to be one of the creators, judging by his game name… take that Dev!
To control the game you have two virtual thumb-sticks much like an Xbox 360 setup. Rather cleverly they have mapped the fire button to the left stick and the jump button to the right stick, this frees up the screen from your thumbs and works pretty well. You can choose a second control option, which adds tilt as a replacement for turning, but I found the dual set up worked best.
Graphically the game runs to a solid frame-rate, and consists mainly of smallish arena’s containing corridors and small rooms. Each arena is laid out differently, but they all have the same industrial/tech style texturing with the odd box here and there to hide behind. Players assume the same Space Marine style suits, with only their player name above their heads allowing you to tell each player apart. These look and animate well, but some customisation would be good so you can all look different.
The weapons in an FPS can make or break it, and unfortunately there are only two weapons; a default laser and a rocket launcher. The laser takes a few shots to take out an opponent, but if you pick up the rocket launcher you take them out with one shot, which is all you get, so make it count. This respawns in the same place each time, so the race is always on to get there first. You have a Halo style health bar which depreciates as your are hit, but replenishes if you get away and hide. Once your bar is empty your are dead and you will respawn in a random part of the arena.
As well as online deathmatches, you can play offline against bots in a survivor mode. But, the real fun comes from the multiplayer mode and without it the game can be a shallow experience.
Graphics and Presentation
The framerate is silky smooth, but at the cost of repetitive textures, arenas and character models.
Minimal sound effects and no music, however the 3d sound of gun fire and footsteps works well to let you know where your foe is coming from.
While there isn’t much of an offline component, the game really shines online with a fun deathmatch experience against up to 4 players. Unfortunately the game is let down by it’s lack of variety on play modes and weapon types.
The gamelife could stretch on for an eternity with online, as no deathmatch will ever be the same. However, we have to be realistic here, and so with only one online game type of deathmatch, only two weapons and three similarly styled maps, there may be not quite enough to keep players coming back for more.
As it stands iFPS is a competent online shooter. But it feels like it’s in beta mode right now, with the potential to be so much better. It’s got a solid 3D engine and great controls, but where it excels in those areas it lacks in content. Lets hope Pick up and Play bring us more with an update. iFPS is out now for $3.99
[UPDATE] The game appears to be online over WiFi only.