24 Special Ops Review

We don’t have time to explain, dammit! There’s some Eastern European guy running around with a loose nuke, and we have to go shoot him in the head before he vaporizes Los Angeles! Get outta our way!

It’s just another day in the life of Jack Bauer, the scowling hero of hit TV series 24. DChoc’s 24 Special Ops tackles what would ordinarily be an entire season’s worth of shows in a series of bite-sized missions. There’s close combat, intrigue, and high speed car chases–just the way everyone’s favorite maverick special agent likes it. Sort of.

You see, 24 Special Ops comes to the iPhone by way of mobile phones, which simply don’t handle action very well. DChoc’s design reflects this by slowing everything down and simplifying it, so that the game plays almost like an action puzzle.

For instance, no aiming’s necessary during the combat scenes, which play out in an isometric view. Bauer automatically draws a bead on bad guys that are within range, and then you hold down the screen to fill up a “headshot meter” for an instant kill. Touching the corners of the screen moves you around and allows you to take cover behind boxes; a grenade button tosses explosives. Simply walking up to a baddie is enough to perform an instant melee kill.

We’re not sure Bauer would approve of such design choices, were he an iPhone gamer, but we kind of like it–it has a very tactical feel. If you rush in like an idiot, guns a-blazing, the mooks will murder you lickety split. It seems fair to us.

24 Special Ops throws some actual puzzles into the mix between combat missions, which also plays into the game’s deliberate pacing. There are coded messages to decipher, as well as bombs (taking the form of a simple pipe puzzle) to defuse. Even the driving and car chase sequences have a puzzle feel to them, since they’re build around finding lanes more than driving skill.

Between 24 Special Ops’ wide variety and number of missions, the show-appropriate cutscenes, and the many collectibles and achievements to work through, we think it merits a buy at $4.99. DChoc probably could have come up with an experience better tailored to the iPhone’s strengths–especially in the graphics department–but its original design is clever enough to withstand the test of time and change of platforms.

Oh, one more thing: DON’T BUY THIS GAME IF YOU’RE ON AN iTOUCH. It’s iPhone-only.

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