Cops ‘n’ Choppers
I’ve only ever been in a helicopter once in my life. I was 15 at the time, and I distinctly recall being very excited before stepping onto it. I had visions of 80′s TV Drama ‘Airwolf’ in my mind, as well a hundred different army films, Amstrad CPC 464 games, and at least one episode of the A-Team. I’m not certain about the A-Team actually, but they must’ve been in a helicopter at some point.
Anyway, what I’m trying to get is I felt cool. Mega cool. Unfortunately, as I entered and the copter took flight, it was also the exact moment I realised I was terrified of heights. Oh dear.
Since that didn’t go too well, I’ve had to live the life of a chopper pilot through other means, and most recently, Jujubee’s Suspect In Sight has allowed me to relive the helicopter experience minus the foaming at the mouth and general freaking out.
The game is a send up of 70′s US cop shows such as…well, I don’t know ‘That 70′s US Cop Show’ or something. You take control of Rob, a hard-nosed policeman who quite frankly looks like the kind of butch, over tattooed psychopath you should be locking up, rather than using to do the locking.
You pilot a Police Helicopter in a top-down flying jaunt where you attempt to identify criminals on the loose throughout the city by shining your chopper’s spotlight on them. Keep the lights trained on them long enough and they’ll eventually get busted by a backup team of officers. They obviously don’t make it easy though, as the speedy criminals use every twist, turn and backstreet to escape. You’ve also got a strict time limit which increases by a few seconds after you catch a perpetrator.
A simple radar shows your location, and that of suspects, although it doesn’t display the cityscape so it’s literally a blue and red dot chasing after each other. Keeping the suspect in your spotlight for the duration of the chase earns you extra points. It presumably also makes the criminal feel rather famous.
After you successfully bring a wrongdoer to justice, you can pick up gems which earn you extra points and XP which contributes towards unlocking new game modes and extra content. The inclusion of gems in a game like this stands out as being somewhat incongruous. Cash would have made far more sense. Nabbing a criminal, then picking up shiny red gems as a reward is mixing up your videogames tropes, surely.
The game bears more than a passing resemblance to the sort of side mission you’d expect to play in a GTA title, except that where Suspect In Sight is concerned, that’s all you get. This isn’t a complaint as such, after all, it is what it is. It’s just that at times you feel as though you want to land the helicopter and explore the city, especially as the 3D retina graphics are top notch, with each of the three locations (Miami, New York, Los Angles coming soon in an update. Ok, two locations then) having plenty of detail. Then again, as I’m sure the staff at Jujubee would be quick to point out, if you want to do that, you can always go and play GTA.
There are a couple of different control schemes on offer, but the default tilt option works well enough that you won’t need the other two, which feel as though they’ve been tacked on. You can either use a left or right virtual stick which controls the chopper, the problem is there’s no second stick, and what you’re given controls both the left/right and up/down movement of the helicopter. This makes keeping the suspect in sight (like what I did there?) a little fiddly. Sensitivity can be adjusted, but not doing anything with the other thumb feels weird and very 1990′s. I suppose you could always stick it up your nose or something.
The game touts it’s sense of humour. It’s certainly chucklesome, but we’re not talking about it getting it’s own series on HBO or anything. It’s a decent parody of American Cop shows, but it feels as though it could’ve gone a bit further with the self awareness. A good recent example of this kind of comedy is One Epic Game, which completely ripped itself to shreds. Some may find this hilarious though. Horses for courses.
It also features some great artwork in the form of comic panels which serve as introductions to each city as well as inhabiting the rest of the menu screens. These are brilliantly penned and make the game stand out, giving it it’s own unique style. Keep an eye out for a funny picture in the corner in the Hall of Fame section, which displays all your in-game achievements.
In-game chatter from Police radios give it an authentic feel and is well done. Although I feel they’ve missed a trick here – this could’ve been used as an avenue for more humour, but sticks to the straight up route of informing the player what the next criminal car looks like etc.
I must also point out that Suspect In Sight bucks the ubiquitous trend of IAP in favour of good old fashion grinding. It’s almost refreshing to see a game that rewards you solely for being good at it. Unfortunately, it seems to have gone in the other direction to the extreme, as it takes disproportionately long to unlock new levels and bonuses. Add to this gameplay which lacks variation in the early stages, and you’ve got a recipe which means you might stop playing before you get to the more interesting stuff. Until you get to the more fun game types, its just feels as though you’re chasing the same red car down the same backstreet ad-infinitum. It’s a shame, the progression structure just needs a bit more balance. Like me when I’m doing yoga.
So the game risks being discarded prematurely. If you can hack the grind, stick with it and it does actually become more interesting. On the plus side, I lasted longer playing Suspect In Sight than I did with my first and only helicopter experience even before I got to that point. I’m sure Jujubee will be happy to know that as far as I’m concerned, this makes Suspect In Sight my definitive lifetime helicopter experience. That must count for something.
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Suspect In Sight is out now for £1.49 as a universal app. Get it now on the