The game that gets my goat
I’m going to come back to this later in the review, but I must start by mentioning that Trigger Fist by Lake Effect Studios includes a mode that sees you lugging a goat around the field of war while attempting to protect it. In many ways, I could stop writing now, because once someone’s told you there’s videogame goat on the loose, there isn’t much more to be said. By the way, I hope I’d have stopped writing by the time you read this review otherwise there’s something very strange going on. In the interest of fair and impartial journalism that I apparently should be aspiring to, I shall give this game a proper critique.
As a shooter, Trigger Fist is barebones. As barebones as Capt Barebones McBony holding a flag with a skull and crossbones listening to Bone Thugs n Harmony. At first glance, there’s not a lot to endorse it as anything other than a generic army blaster for a number of reasons.
First off, it’s a multiplayer only game. You and seven others in an arena shooting each other in the eye. You can either play by yourself with AI Bots, or jump online and put bullets in real people. Something I try not to do anymore for fear of jail time.
Because it’s mutiplayer only, there’s no story, which means there’s no flashy intro, no characters, no mission or real reason you’re fighting. To wit, there’s no purpose to any of it. It’s one thing playing against bots, it’s another when you’re playing one yourself. These things aren’t necessarily detrimental of course, but there are a couple of quirks that add to the feeling you’ve seen this all before.
It’s not the nicest to look at. It’s functional, and certainly not terrible, but it’s not going to make your eyes pop out of your head, which I accept is probably a good thing if taken literally. Guns are plentiful, but commit the cardinal sin of shooters for me, in that they don’t feel weighty enough when you fire them, and explosions are graphically weak and unimpressive. Character models and animation are okay, but levels are bland looking and lack imagination. To be fair to them though, find me any modern day shooter whose levels don’t include ‘Missle Silo’, ‘Afgan Village’ and my personal favorite ‘Brown Corridor’, and I’ll show you…well, a racing game probably.
There are four game types, and aside from the Sacred Goat, which is basically another name for Capture the Flag, you’ve played them all. There’s Free-for-all which is your standard deathmatch, King of The Hill which charges you with holding the hill for a specified time to win, Team Deathmatch, which is…I’m sorry, if you don’t know what a Team Deathmatch is, you shouldn’t be reading this review.
The problem is, those modes are all you get. For a multiplayer shooter, these are the absolute minimum you should expect, so it’s a little disappointing to not see any other original game types in there. The goat certainly hints at some more imagination in that regard, but sadly there’s nothing more.
Music is also by the numbers. A nondescript rock tune plays through the menu screens, but there’s nothing when the game starts; it’s all about the ballad of explosions and gunfire. Unfortunately, these are also underwhelming and tinny.
And at the risk of sounding like a real sourpuss, the camera doesn’t allow you to look up and down. You’re only free to scan the field horizontally, which if you’re used to – oh I don’t know – any first or third person shooter since the history of time, will be pretty jarring when you first start playing.
The whole thing is desperate for an injection of personality, which ironically, it does get in a small dose from the Sacred Goat mode, but it’s far from enough. Let’s be honest here though, there are few games that couldn’t be improved with the main character carting a goat around the level.
So it’s missing a lot of the spit shine something like Modern Combat or NOVA’s multiplayer has in spades, but customisation is where Trigger Fist just about keeps you interested.
There are three different classes – Rifleman, Gunner and Scout (a couple more would’ve been nice). Each has their own strengths, weaknesses, perks and loadouts to explore, giving the game a shot in the arm (pun most definitely intended) where replayability counts. There’s XP for each class to earned, which means more guns to unlock. Each gun is thankfully markedly different from the others, and the promise of finally unlocking that Uzi you’ve been grinding XP for always keeps you coming back.
And the more you play, the more you realize that like it or not, the stripped back nature of the title is a deliberate design choice rather than dialed-in effort. The fact the camera doesn’t allow you to look up and down helps keep firefights fast paced and frantic, and stops you from doing that thing that everyone does when playing an iOS shooter with virtual buttons, where you end up shooting straight up in the air for a few seconds before getting headshotted (real word). What do you mean you don’t do that? Shut it.
While unimaginative in their visual design, levels are very well balanced in terms of their structure and provide enough nooks, crannies, grannies and hiding places to keep things interesting. Ignore the grannies part. The in-game radar is simple, but works so well that you wonder why no one’s done it like that before. Controls are also intuitive enough that you don’t realize they’re there – surely the highest praise you can give in that respect. If you’re just after the ability to shoot folk in the unmentionables without any distraction, then soon enough, you’ll have been playing for three straight hours and all the niggles won’t matter that much.
It’s greater than the sum of its parts then. It might not blow you away, but it does enough to keep you jumping back in for another quick blast, which I believe is the games exact intention. No more, no less. You’d just think that slinging a goat onto the battlefield would be the prelude to a shooter revolution. Maybe it’ll take a neurotic wild boar with a penchant for nuclear weapons to finally achieve that. Stranger games have happened.
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Trigger Fist is available for £2.99 on iPhone, iPad and iod Touch. Get it now on the