i Sniper takes an interesting concept and a charmingly flippant attitude and manages to turn it into a completely awful game. We’re almost impressed by how badly this game turned out… but then we thought about some of the more creative failures we’ve played recently, and decided that iSniper doesn’t even rate on that scale. Just stay away from it.
Sure enough, you play as a sniper, picking off enemy combatants. Those enemies appear on a stationary background, firing back at you. In order to shoot these guys, you first zoom in with the sniper scope by touching the screen. Once zoomed, an aiming crosshair pops up, which you move with the accelerometer to lock in and nail your targets. After the screen’s cleared, the next wave of enemies appears, and so on until the level is cleared. You’re given a fair amount of time to finish the job, but if you can’t kill the bad guys in time, your game is over and you have to restart the mission.
There is also a silly plot involving hostages, and it does provide some amusingly overwrought prose in the loading screens, but it’s essentially worthless. A good plot (which this isn’t) can drive a game, but also we like our games to be fun to play… and that’s where i Sniper just completely falls flat. The aim is the worst offender. The tilt controls are of the utmost importance, but you can’t to calibrate the sensor or readjust how you hold the iDevice. And even once you get it where you think it should be, it’ll still act glitchy, making it impossible to move up or down at a crucial point and forcing you to zoom back out and retry the effort. That’s frustrating.
The combat action itself is asinine. Every now and again a little red spot and a vibration will let you know you’ve been shot–it’s about the least visceral thing the developer could have come up with. We initially targeted the enemies with head shots, thinking it would make for an instant kill ala Halo 3… but it turns out that any hit is an instant kill. Foot, arm, body… it’s the same death sequence and pretty disappointing. What’s the fun of sniping if you don’t even get the glory of a gory kill? iSniper does feature a concentration meter that allows you to hold your breath for extra-precise aim, which is kind of cool, but you never really need to use it.
i Sniper’s menu system is neat, but the in-game graphics are subpar, and that’s not what you need when precision sniping is the goal. The backgrounds are painted and immobile, and the enemies are little blips at distance that become little guys when you zoom in. Those little guys sort of jerk from one pose to another, but it’s not what we’d call animation. In fact, it looks terrible. The music is easily forgotten, a bit of easy-listening hard rock that we turned off quickly. The sound effects were better, but that might be because there’s only one or two different ones – a shot and an impact.
Here’s the bottom line on i Sniper: the game is a like a trashy junkyard surrounded by a gleaming white picket fence. The fence looks appropriate and solidly done, but nothing in the middle is worth your time. Even at $1.99, you’re wasting your money with i Sniper.