The phone rings. On the other end of the line is a menacing, distorted voice: “Do you wanna play a game?” If that game is the official Scream 4 iOS game, quick, get out of the house!
Scream 4 isn’t the worst mobile movie game we’ve played– Kick-Ass is still the one to beat. But it also flubs its concept, which is to let you run around as the killer and slice up innocent people. The main problems with the “execution” here include the imprecise controls, cluttered environments, and an overall lack of content.
In Scream 4, you play as the killer in a variety of scenes, like a school, frat party, or fancy mansion. Your victims wander around randomly, and your goal is to sneak up on them, getting close enough to initiate a swipe-based minigame that will cut them down. Every time you take out another victim, a policeman will show up, and they can stop you with a few well-placed bullets.
It’s my party and I’ll die if I want to.
You control the killer by tapping or holding down any location on the screen, but it’s not a very precise way of navigating the maze-like houses. While you can choose to be stealthy, it’s also possible to rush at each victim like Pac-Man after a ghost. The animations are a bit off, too, so any chases are going to look very awkward.
In addition, the environments are extremely cluttered. Each Sims-like interior is jam-packed with distracting transparent walls, which flicker as you move by, to allow you to see into each room. Not only is this visually unappealing, but it makes each scene feel less realistic, and you can’t move the camera for a better look at what you’re doing.
Bullets! My only weakness– how did you know?
Finally, Scream 4 is a very short game. You can hack your way through each of the four environments in about 15 minutes, but you’re encouraged to replay each level for more points and OpenFeint bragging rights. Points are awarded for various creative “killstyles”, like killing the jock and his cheerleader girlfriend one right after the other. These killstyles are creative, and we’d have liked to see them utilized a bit more, perhaps as one-off bonus missions.
The idea of playing as the murderer is not a bad one, though in this game there’s not a lot of suspense in running around with a knife. The flickering graphics are also a big distraction, and in general the game doesn’t feel very scary or fun. Sick concept aside, there’s not a whole lot to enjoy about Scream 4, so don’t bother with this game unless you think The Sims needs more mass murder.