Silent Scope Hands-On

Preview video is up!

The arcade classic Silent Scope was known for its unique hardware–the replica sniper rifle controller pointed at the arcade screen contained a smaller screen inside the scope, allowing you to gauge distances near and far while you carefully aimed your shots. The iPhone is an impressive piece of hardware as well, but with only one screen, some changes had to be made to fit the new platform. We sighted down Konami’s iPhone port of the game at a press event last Thursday, and came away feeling that its aim is true–for the most part.

Since you no longer have a second screen to peer into, all of the action takes place on the iPhone’s touch screen, which becomes a sniper’s reticule when you double-tap to zoom in on a target. You can still fire from a distance, but the pixel-high bad guys are almost impossible to hit without zooming in.

In our time with Silent Scope on the iPhone, the zooming-in mechanic was sometimes unresponsive, causing our sniper to shoot twice instead of aiming. Using multi-touch to zoom in on a target, the way you can zoom in on a web page or photo on the iPhone (and the method used in Metal Gear Solid Touch), would have made a lot more sense than the awkward double-tap.

Still, the graphics and animations were surprisingly spot-on for this version. Like in the original arcade game, the reaction of enemy targets when your first bullet narrowly misses is simply priceless. They’ll look around, confused, trying to figure out where to hide, and that’s when you follow up with a second shot.

The iPhone version also allows you to gain more points by targeting specific body parts, and hone your accuracy in multiple types of indoor and outdoor training modes. The main story, where you rescue the President and his family as they are held hostage in Chicago, contains several exciting shootouts, such as a helicopter boss battle and a speeding freeway chase.

Although the controls might be a bit iffy, the production values in Silent Scope are top-notch, and fans of the arcade original will probably be thrilled with this version. Silent Scope premieres for $6.99 later this month. Stay tuned for our exclusive preview video, which should be up later today.