November 4, 2009

iPhone App of the Week: Eliminate Pro

ngmoco has a large presence in the App Store, but aside from Topple, there's not a free app in their arsenal... until now.

This menu screen, my friends, is of Eliminate Pro. Despite the "Pro" moniker, this online first-person shooter is far from costly (that is, unless you wish to buy energy cells) and it's well-made for a free app.

Instead, Eliminate takes advantage of Apple's in-app purchases, which just opened up to free apps. I've always worried about how Apple's new stance on in-app purchases would make developers lazy and get money through nickel-and-diming customers instead. Quite frankly, Eliminate kind of proves this theory, except that it is far from lazily made.

The meat of the game lies in the online-only deathmatch which pits you against either random players around the world, or a private friends list. If you wish to improve your shooting skills, tapping "Bots" is the place to go (and it's the only offline mode of the game).

And this leads me to how the game controls.

Basically, you have two analog sticks, the one on the left lets you control the character's movement, while the right one lets you rotate the camera and aim. Tapping the right analog also lets you fire your weapon, while tapping the central part of the screen allows you more precision with your shooting as it closes up to reveal the reticle... err, you know sniper-style. Tapping the bottom part lets you jump through platforms, while tapping the upper part lets you access the menus. The thing about the control overlay is that it disappears overtime, which can be both a blessing and a curse. For one thing, it makes for a more immersive experience since the buttons are not in the way of your view, but adjusting newbies will find it a bit uncomfortable, especially when controlling the right analog stick to aim. It can be quite awkward, really, and the zooming reticle can be annoying if accidentally summoned. In fact, the reticle caused me to die before I could shoot someone accurately.

Thankfully, the game offers options to customize the controls, but it's not as powerful as that of Duke Nukem's (although Duke Nukem's controls are crappy). Still, just being able to uncheck the box that says "Tap Center to zoom in" or whatever is a saving grace for the game. Auto-fire can also help newbies adjust better.

So okay, the game's controls are decent, but how about the actual game? Well, the maps are varied since they're picked at random (and they're kinda decently made to boot), and more importantly, getting into an online match is pretty darn fast, and better yet, it doesn't sacrifice the graphical quality of the game just to get it loading fast.

Still, I was playing on newer hardware, so if you're on a first generation iDevice (be it iPhone or iPod touch), be wary as the game's performance could take a hit due to more outdated innards.

So if you think you want to opt out of the game, you can tap on Menu, get a glance of your performance, and just get out. But the catch is, when you quit, the game shows its evil, corporate side by depleting your "energy" as shown in the main screen. The purpose of this "energy" is to limit your playtime, and if you wish to play more despite depleted energy, you can wait for it to recharge the next day or purchase this energy through iTunes, which is actually a big load of bullcrap. In a corporate point of view, this is a bit of a creative way to limit server load (and even fund the server maintenance), heck, people actually buy the $139.99 power pack for Christ's sake! Madness, right?

Quite ironically, depending on your performance, you can also earn some in-game currency called "Credits" to do the same thing, and then some.

I think it actually makes more sense to price the armor and gear than the energy, but the equipment, apparently, can only be had through the in-game credits. Puzzling, to say the least.

But at the end of the day, only the level of fun you had matters, and I, quite frankly, had a bit of that as well. Despite the limiting energy mechanic, the free app doesn't require you to purchase anything with real money, really. If you can control your urge to play continuously, you can pretty much have this game and not mind the in-app purchases. It's a competent FPS that connects to a game really quickly without sacrificing graphical fidelity, which is rare in the App Store nowadays. ngmoco does a good job with this app, and I recommend you download it.

Rating: 7.5/10 [Online FPS fun for (deceptively) nothing!, iTunes Store Link]

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