Com2us take on the over-saturated market of Sniper games on the AppStore. So is success squarely in their sights or do they become just another John Doe in a body bag?
After the success of their last iPhone game ‘Homerun Battle 3D’ (previously known as Baseball Sluggers) which was not only original and good to look at, but also featured the best implementation of online gaming on the iPhone and iPod Touch, you would think entering into the Sniper genre was a step backward. Afterall, there are a ton of Sniper games on the AppStore, which capitalise on the touch and pinch dynamic that works so well on the platform. Some of these games fair well, Paramount’s ‘Shooter’ being one of my favourites, and others not so much, iHunt springs to mind!
So how have Com2Us implemented their unique spin on proceedings? Well on the face of it it’s hard to tell. It looks very much like the majority of Sniper games already out there. Tap the zoomed out view of your surroundings to activate your binoculars, and when you have located your target, tap the target icon to switch to your sniper scope. Tap once more to shoot! Movement is via accelerometer, so tilting in any direction translates the same on screen.
Even the game modes are pretty standard fare. In single player mode you have the option of playing through six missions, across varied environments with increasing difficulty. Your mission?… to take out the required amount of enemy snipers before they take you out.
There is also the Special Missions mode. This takes the same 6 maps from the story mode and throws in various challenges, such as shoot all the plant pots within the time limit, or taking out the aliens. There are 5 special missions per map (totalling 30 in all) and if you complete them all, you can earn powerups that will increase your accuracy, and rate of fire etc.
1 vs 1 is the highlight mode from the single player, pitting you against a lone enemy in a shoot out to the death. Basically it’s kill or be killed, so you better find him first!
Graphically the game is a big let down. After the great 3D toon art style of Homerun 3D I was expecting a lot more in the presentation stakes. Unfortunatley the game features uninspiring 2D art with dull environments and motionless characters that have zero personality. In a mode such as 1 vs 1 this is even more apparent, as you are supposed to be pitched against the elite of the sniper world. But with no visual profile of these characters, they become just another guy in black and you lose any excitement in taking them out.
So, based on single player experience alone, through all 3 modes… it offers a solid but mediocre experience. The story mode can be completed with relative ease, and ends with a un-inspiring cut scene that makes little sense. The special missions, while adding a reason to go back for more, are also a little uninspired and exist purely to power yourself up. Finally the 1 vs 1, while easily the best single player mode, lacks the pizzazz to hold your attention for long …
… Lucky then that the aformentioned pizzazz lives just a short tap below the Single Player Mode…. and it’s called ONLINE PLAY!
Here you have two options of play. There’s Alliance attack, which is a cooperative version of the single player missions, but with the player getting the most kills being victorious. Secondly there is 1 vs 1 online, and while it was a solid mode in single player, the online version simply kicks it to the curb. Now your opponent isn’t some faceless AI bot, but a real person somewhere in the world. Call me sick, but I find far more pleasure in outwitting a human opponent, and taking them out with a well place head shot, than with an AI one.
You start out on opposite buildings, and you must scan the area with both free look and binoculars to spot your opponent, line up and shoot before he can do the same to you. The matches play out like a beat’em up, with a power bar for both you and your opponent. After a successful hit the victims power bar is reduced, and the players positions are reset. Head shots unleash the most damage, but the increased concentration and accuracy required could slow you down and leave you open to being taken out. As a little twist in the tale, the tables are turned after a shot, with the sound alerting the opposing player to your whereabouts… so you better be quick with those binoculars!
Combined with online leaderboards, lobbies and chat, Sniper Vs Sniper is saved from being just another pinch and shoot clone, into an addictive ‘one more go’ gem. It’s just a shame that all the elements (single player and presentation) were not given the same love and care as the online features, because as an offline game it’s just average also-ran. If you are big on online play then this is a must have. However, if it’s just a solo experience you crave, then you may want to look elsewhere
Sniper Vs Sniper: Online is out now for $4.99
Note: As a single player game this would have scored lower, but the game is pitched as an online game… and it is here that it really shines. The score reflects this fact