If you haven’t done so yet, stop what you’re doing and download Eliminate Pro. Okay, if you’re performing surgery, please finish up, and then download it. Eliminate Pro is a deathmatch-style first-person shooter with a pace that’s savagely fast, and a fun factor that grips you like a drug. If you’re not careful, Eliminate Pro will make a junkie out of you. And like any smart dealer, developer Ngmoco gives away just enough for free to make you want more.
This is a standard first-person deathmatch game, in which you and up to three other players are set in a small, dynamic level, and have to kill each other as many times as possible before either the time runs out or someone racks up 10 kills. You have the option to play offline against bots, but you won’t want to. Eliminate is best played online, where you’re speedily matched up with people of similar skill waiting to turn you into Swiss cheese. Online mode is also where you earn credits, which are necessary to level up and purchase or upgrade the stats of your weapons, armor, and items. It’s also where you just might become addicted.
Looks like someone wants to be fragged.
The gear-purchase and upgrade system is so deep and rewarding that, if you’re into this sort of thing, you’ll have nearly as much fun buying equipment and upgrading your stats as you will fragging opponents online. The reason it’s so rewarding is that once you upgrade, you can immediately see changes in your next match. Increase the damage of your plasma cannon, for instance, and you’ll notice opponents going down in fewer shots. Buy a new suit of armor, and you’ll feel almost invincible for a while. Eliminate Pro offers so many options to gear up and hand-craft your stats that it gives you a feeling of investment in your character that’s rare in videogames.
The controls are set up like most recent FPS games on the platform, and they’re great. You have a stick on the left that moves you forward, backward, and strafes left and right. Drag your thumb around the right side of the screen to look around. A jump button sits at the bottom center of the screen, where it’s not incredibly accessible during combat, but it gets the job done. Tapping the center of the screen zooms in, and tapping the upper right hand corner switches weapons. There’s also a handy auto-shoot feature that makes your weapon go off every time your crosshair points at a bad guy. We recommend turning this on.
The environments are very well-designed, too. Since only four players face off against each other at a time, it’s to everyone’s benefit that the maps are small enough that you’ll never spend too much time looking for someone to shoot. All of the maps have moving parts, like elevating platforms, spinning walls, or even a deadly trash compactor-like mechanism. Scattered throughout the levels are powerups that boost your speed, shield, health, or damage. When you make a kill, your fallen opponent spills out credits and health boosts that you or sneaky opponents can scoop up. The levels and graphics aren’t overly pretty, but with the intensity of action and the quick load times, that’s an easy issue to overlook.
Zoom to snipe.
Harder to overlook is the money you might invest in this game. Outside of the deathmatches, you have an energy bar that depletes with each match you play. A full energy bar will allow you roughly three matches, which take just a couple minutes apiece. Run out of energy, and you have three options. You can continue playing but without earning credits, you can wait several real-time hours for your bar to recharge on its own, or you can use power cells to recharge it manually. While you start out with 30 power cells, these will last you just long enough to become invested in the game. Additional power cells are available via in-app purchase. They come in the following amounts: 20 for $0.99; 280 for $9.99; and 975 for $29.99.
Twelve power cells are required to fill up your energy bar all the way. This means you’ll have to do some math to figure out how many, if any, you want to purchase at any given time. We will say that the moment our last power cell ran out, we immediately bought a pack of 20 to satisfy our craving. Sure, we could have waited or played without earning credits, but we were hooked.
Ngmoco’s own Plus+ network tracks leaderboards, connects you with friends, and grants you achievements. The tutorial and in-game manual do a fine job of explaining everything you need to know. A tiny “WTF” button (standing, they explain humorously, for “where to find”) is in the corner of each menu screen, and tapping it brings up the section of the manual that explains whatever you’re looking at. We ran into a few glitches during our play sessions, one that muted the audio, and one that crashed the game. However, these were few and far between.
Upgrade your armors here.
Online matchmaking works fairly well, but you’ll often notice that enemies are either too hard or too easy to kill. When they go down like flies, you’ll win lots of credits and feel like Schwarzenegger in his prime, but it makes for shorter matches. When you can’t seem to make a kill no matter how many bullets you pump into someone, it gets frustrating.
You really have nothing to lose by downloading Eliminate Pro. Its siren song will call loudest to hardcore gamers, but anyone can and should give it a shot. The initial, free allotment of power cells will fuel your habit for about an hour, which is plenty for you to decide how you’d like to proceed. Some players might feel nickel and dimed by the in-app purchases, but we think of it kind of like an arcade game for the iDevice. Casual players can dabble for free, while hardcore addicts can pay as they go. Any way you slice it, this is one of the most polished full experiences you’ll find for free on the App Store.