Robokill : Titan Prime
There is no shortage of twin-stick shooters for the iPhone. Every other day brings a new one for you to play, so much so that pretty soon a level of ennui is reached. A new entry into this genre has to do things a little bit better to be noticed.
Oh, yeah. It also helps if the enemies are something other than zombies! How about ... robots?
Wandake seem to be aware of the over-saturated nature of the App Store in terms of such games, and have done their best to make their own entry stand out. First, and most obviously, there is the graphics. They don't do a good job, they do a great one. The game is set on a spaceship, where things have gotten a bit bleak. And, it really does look exactly as you would imagine! Backgrounds make you think of the Nostromo, or even Red Dwarf, with the idea of the scale of a deep space vessel being reinforced quite remarkably. Things are always smooth, and the enemies look suitably threatening. Even with plenty of them on screen at one time, there is little slowdown even on the 3G. The game whizzes about as it should do, at least in terms of looks.
Control is less than perfect, with things seeming sluggish, but this never feels due to any technical restraints. The standard issue superimposed d-pads here seem to be trying to recreate an analogue movement stick. This is brave, but does mean that often you will not move at the speed you wanted to. On more than one instance I plummeted to my death with the knowledge that it was more lack of control than my own stupidity that caused it. At times, too, you might not see the edge that you subsequently fall off, but this is a rare enough event and you still feel as if it was your own fault.
It feels weird, because the right stick handles like a dream. Everything you aim at gets hit; there is absolutely no room for improvement in this respect. Accuracy is never questioned, and since the game ramps up in difficulty quite soon this is absolutely essential. Death WILL occur quite frequently early on, as sheer weight of numbers takes its toll on you. Of course, this is intentional. Every time you die, the robots take back over some of the rooms you cleared previously, which means a theoretically infinite supply of robots to shoot. Each robot killed adds to your experience, as well as dropping money and power-ups. Levels unlock new weapons types, money buys them, and the RPG overtones which may have swamped the game in complexity make for a comfortable bedfellow alongside the shooter aspects.
In terms of how the game feels, this is basically Smash TV in space. Unlike the old arcade classic, though, you won't hit any impassable difficulty spikes. There are rooms that are much harder than others, but they can sometimes be cleared later on, and sometimes be ignored altogether. There are times when you will need to backtrack with a key item, but these always feel natural and are never laborious.
The RPG elements aside, this is a good old-fashioned shooter at heart. Your aim is to kill or be killed, and to get better at the killing and the not being killed as the game progresses. Upgrades help, but the biggest thing you will come to rely on is your own skill. With a suitably chunky campaign to go through, you won't be completing this on a single bus ride to work. You may need to set aside a few days, with completion clocking in at at least 8 hours of play.
An update to the control system could make this essential. As it is, it is simply very good indeed. The fun, challenge, and aesthetics are extremely pleasing. There is something that always feels so right about shooters set in space, and this one is no exception. They may not be able to hear you scream in space, but they will definitely hear the sound of this many bullets...
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 9
- Gameplay: 8
- Longevity: 8
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