There are many different sniping and shooting gallery games to choose from on the App Store right now, so we find it mildly hilarious that we’re recommending one based on a Mark Wahlberg movie nobody watched. But Shooter is a good game regardless of its source material. It’s a high quality production that gets the sniping gameplay right, while also making the best of its license.
Shooter tells the story of one Bob Lee Swagger (Wahlberg’s character), a highly trained and decorated Marine Corps sniper who gets framed up for an attempted Presidential assassination and goes on the run from the law. You try to clear Swagger’s name by peering into a rifle scope and eliminating the conspirators’ private army, bullet by bullet. It’s not exactly the greatest story ever told, but the cutscenes are a heck of a lot better than what you usually get in an iPhone game, and they have decent voice acting, too.
The core sniping sequences have a very methodical feel to them. First, you scout the location with binoculars to locate a pocket of bad guys. Then, you switch over to your rifle scope and take them out as quickly and safely as you can; they will shoot back and eventually kill you if you’re too slow. You typically have to clear five to seven of these pockets within ten minutes to advance.
Shooter’s sniping is intuitive and fun. Tilt controls move your scope around the scene to target a bad guy, and you can then touch a ‘hold your breath’ button to steady your aim for the headshot (and extra points). Touch controls handle the trigger, reloading, and fine-tuning when aiming. The screen displays the direction from which you are being shot at, which is handy, because enemies will attempt to conceal themselves and switch cover frequently. This tracking process becomes even more important on the later levels, when the game starts to take on a hint of ‘hidden objects’ gameplay. You also have to compensate for wind speed and direction, which show up at the top of the screen.
The sniping action is broken up by a few other types of combat mission, as well as occasional minigames. You might have to switch to a pistol and grenades to clear a room full of goons in a more traditional shooting gallery setup, or fight an armored vehicle that takes multiple shots to kill. There’s also a puzzle game where you improvise various military items out of household junk, like McGuyver. Frankly, most this stuff is pretty lackluster next to the main event. We would have preferred more sniping missions.
This game looks and sounds good. The background graphics are colorful and artfully rendered, and there’s a good amount of detail on the characters you’re icing through the sniper scope. We’d say that the sound effects and music are better than average, as well. Unfortunately, there’s a price to pay: disruptive loads whenever you switch in and out of a sniping sequence. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it’s pretty annoying, considering how often it happens.
All in all, Shooter is an excellent choice for gamers looking for some precise action. It’s currently at $1.99, but we would still recommend it up to the $3-4 range.