iShoot is currently the best-selling game on the entire App Store–#1 out of nearly 4000 games. Why? Is the game simply amazing, or is there some other force at work here? After investigating, we can tell you that there’s nothing extraordinary about iShoot, despite its 4.5 star rating. We can see the appeal of its destructive gameplay, and it does certain things very well… but it’s neither a polished nor memorable experience.
iShoot is a simple turn-based artillery game. Two to four tanks (controlled by humans or the computer) drive around a level lobbing explosives at the others, until only the winner is left. All of these weapons fly in a parabolic arc, so winning usually comes down to who can calibrate the angle of their gun and the power of their shots most accurately.
Luckily, iShoot can be fun even for those that are no good at aiming, depending on what kinds of weapons you use. Between rounds, you can buy everything from rolling shells to hellfire missiles to nuclear bombs from the store, using cash earned during the previous round of play. The weapon’s price goes up with its destructive power, so that the really crazy stuff may cost half of your bankroll.
But boy, are those big boomers ever worth it! This game’s fun factor comes from tinkering with the full arsenal and blasting the levels to pieces–quite literally. Your weapons dig craters into any part of the environment they hit, meaning that you can tunnel right through obstacles or drop your enemies into a big hole.
There are even specialized weapons for dropping piles of dirt on the other tanks, and for excavating huge ditches in a hurry. iShoot has a solid physics engine, so walls actually crumble under the force of an explosion, and dirt really slides towards the bottom of the screen.
It’s too bad that iShoot doesn’t do a better job of capitalizing on these strengths. Instead, it’s held back by quality problems and a lack of scope. The game’s interface is pretty lousy–the aiming arrow is much too short, and the power meter moves too quickly, so real precision is next to impossible. Plus, we’ve caught the computer-controlled bots acting erratically; they sometimes seem to commit suicide by aiming at themselves. The AI is weak in general, even when set to expert difficulty.
Finally, there’s just not that much to do in iShoot. You can set the number of rounds you’d like to play all the way up to infinity, but you can never set up the environment in any way, grant handicaps, add wind to the equation, or save and compare high scores. In short, there’s no real goal, other than playing in the sandbox with high explosives.
If that’s enough for you, you may very well be satisfied paying $2.99 for iShoot–but we weren’t. We’ve seen many better-designed games at a third of that price. So how is it that iShoot is #1, in an App Store where the “cream” is supposed to “rise to the top?” We think that it may have something to do with the name.