Mailmen Hands-On Preview

Remember the old Eidos PC game Commandos, where you played as a group of special forces who had to infiltrate the enemy’s base during World War 2? The upcoming iPad game Mailmen is a lot like that, if you replace the commandos with mailmen and the German soldiers with yappy dogs.

In Mailmen, you play as one of four mailmen, each with special skills used to evade your neighborhood’s canine combatants. Johnny, the first character you’ll use, can tie up chihuahuas with a length of rope and gain speed boots for an extra burst of speed. Other characters include Dave, who can wear a fire hydrant disguise, and Charlie, who can throw a tennis ball to distract the dogs.

Mailmen is a cinch to move around– you just tap to move your character, and tap on a dog icon and then your target to see their “cone of vision”. The cone of vision tells you what they’re able to see, so you can sneak around them. One nice detail we noticed was the way that the dogs can see between the slats of a wooden fence.

If you walk through a dog’s line of sight, they’ll come running at you, barking and attacking. Small, fierce chihuahuas were the first enemies we saw, but the game will also include beagles, bulldogs, and rottweilers. In the first few levels, the chihuahuas can also wake up a sleeping German shepherd, who does a lot more damage.

You’re not completely helpless, though, and this is where dog lovers might take offense. To get rid of a vicious attack dog, you’ll have to shake the device to deliver a swift booting. This just stuns the dogs, giving you time to get away.

While we could only play through the first two levels, developer Sandstorm Interactive tells us later levels will be set at nighttime, and also in London, where you have to escort Dave to the airport. We’re also told the story deepens over the 14 levels, and it seems like the main bad guy is not the dogs, but their master Newman (a reference to Wayne Knight’s character on Seinfeld).

Mailmen will be available in the next couple months for iPad only, and it will include Game Center integration and some hidden collectibles in the form of stamps. We love stealth games and haven’t found a great one yet for iOS, so this is one game we’re really hoping will deliver the goods.