Is the iPhone ready for First Person Shooters, or is the thought just a pipe dream? Sure, we have some very basic one’s right now and of course there’s those rumours of Bioshock coming and the news that Native American Vs Aliens FPS ‘Prey’ is coming soon. But I’m talking about whether the iPhone is really cut out for them, afterall it’s missing an essential element [Dual Analogue!]. Are we destined to roam 3D environments with our fingers and thumbs covering the action? Well I’m not sure, and so until we know for sure, through developer trail and error, it seems that for now ‘on-rails’ gun games could be the safer bet.
Step forward Time Crisis Strike from Namco/Bandai. The first high profile on-rails gun game to come to our beloved Jesus phone! Released into arcades in 1996 the original game was similar in play style to Virtua Cop and The House of the Dead. The game differed in that it included a foot pedal that allowed the play to force the character to take cover. And the addition of a countdown clock added pressure to proceedings, with time being recharged by clearing an area of enemies. The iPhone continues this tradition, with you taking on the main antagonist and series regular Wild Dog and his band of not so merry men.
The iPhone edition comprises of an Arcade mode, Stage mode and Crisis Missions. Arcade mode is the meat and potatoes of the game, with Crisis Missions adding mini game style challenges that add some extra replayability. As the name suggests, Arcade mode gives you the classic style gun experience. With you ducking, diving and taking out enemy operatives. Now, obviously the game doesn’t come with a gun attachment. That would be pretty awesome, but I’m not sure how passengers on your morning commute to work would react to you whipping out a GunCon from your briefcase! Alas, Namco/Bandai have come up with an obvious alternative, Tap to shoot! It works as it should, and is pretty accurate. My initial reaction would be that it would be way too easy, but there is some skill involved in that you must balance shooting with reloading and ducking for cover, to avoid the oncoming barrage of enemy fire. Reloading and the cover system share the same controls, which is tilting the iPhone away from you. A quick flick will reload, which is a pleasing experience… and holding the device in that position will make you to take cover, shielding you from any attacks. Flick back and you’ll pop out, ready to exact revenge on those terrorist swines!
Just like the arcade versions of Time Crisis, you’ll be automatically taken through the levels on-rails, stopping for action set pieces before moving on to the next. Typical scenarios involve shoot outs on rooftops, bullet exchanges behind wooden crates, and showdowns with large metal beasts [That's tanks to you and me]. You have limited lives and continues, but luckily you are not charged a pound (or dollar) coin each time you play, so you can happily keep coming back for more without worrying about your home being repossessed by the local arcade owner. There’s only three levels before the final showdown with Wild Dog himself, but this is down to it’s Arcade heritage and so can be forgiven. The added difficulty levels and the bonus Crisis Missions will keep you entertained longer than you think.
Graphically I was expecting more. It’s certainly not terrible looking and it runs well on the iPhone. But, the look and feel is dated, with no modern day lighting effects and shadows that you would expect. It looks like something the Dreamcast or even the earlier Saturn would have spewed out back in the day. Textures are repetitive, models are blocky and enemy animation is a bit wooden. Having said that, if you are a Time Crisis fan then you’ll probably love how it looks.
The music is suitably dramatic, giving it an action movie feel. And the sound effects are typical Arcade style with the familiar voice over commands for Reload and plenty of grunts, ricochets and other weapon sounds ringing in your ears… this all gels well with the intense action the game has to offer.
Overall, I enjoyed Time Crisis Strike… it delivers intense arcade action, with surprisingly good controls… and, while short, begs to be picked up and replayed. If twitch action is your bag, then this is the game for you.
Presentation and graphics
I was expecting more, but it does deliver what you’d expect from Time Crisis and at least looks the same as the Arcade series it follows.
Cheesy but fitting, perfectly replicating the loud and busy nature of an Arcade game design to shout ‘PLAY ME’ at the top of it’s lungs!
Good controls. A fun but short challenge. The more difficult modes will keep you tearing out your hair in anger, or opt to simply breeze though it on easy. You’ll never need to go to the arcade again!
Only 3 missions! But it’s Arcade nature begs to be replayed. The Crisis Missions are a nice touch, giving a pick up and play mini game ethos that the iPhone is perfect for. Still, for a more high end game, they could have thrown in some more levels, even if they are recycled from previous games in the series.
Time Crisis Strike makes me yearn for more games of this type. Lets hope Sega see this and bring the Wii’s House of the Dead: Overkill to our portable friend. Time Crisis Strike is available now for $5.99 (£3.49)