A shoot-em-up in a subway? It sounds crazy, but come on, ride the train.
There are a lot of places that a shoot-em-up can take place. A futuristic city, outer space, underground lairs...and now you can add subway tunnels to the list. As weird as that sounds, Chillingo somehow makes Underground work in its own silly little way. It's shorter than we expected and isn't nearly as deep as it looks, but at four bucks, you'll definitely want to have a seat on this train.
The story starts with a young guy riding the train, recollecting his thoughts as he travels from station to station. As the train he's on leaves, the shooting action begins. There's a diverse amount of enemies to blast, from flying computer parts to out-of-control robots. Some will go down with one hit, while others require a few extra shots to kill. When they explode, they do so in bright bursts of paint, rather than the usual fire effects.
What's happening in the foreground looks cool, but you'll really want to pay attention to the 3-D backgrounds. Chillingo has done a slam-bang job recreating the gritty, graffiti-filled subway scene for Underground, with superb environments and animations to make you feel like you're really cruising around in the actual trains. Credit goes to an artist named Frames, who also provides some artistic touches here and there, some of which his fans should recognize.
Along with the stylish visuals, Underground also has terrific beats. Pp3d's hip-hop score has plenty of tunes to jam to while you shoot enemies. The sound effects are solid, too, particularly the running of the subway trains.
As for controls, there are two options available. You can go with tilt and move the ship by swiveling your iPod Touch/iPhone back and forth while tapping on the screen to control your direction of fire, or use touch to move your ship and firing mechanisms. We prefer touch, if only because using tilt is imprecise and floaty. Your ship will often drift too far in a certain direction, leading to a possible collision with an enemy.
Although there are three difficulty settings (easy, hard and impossible), 11 different power-ups and 12 levels, we couldn't help but feel there could've been more to Underground, like additional levels and options.
That said, Underground is an incredibly innovative shooter and a steal for four bucks. The mind-blowing graphics, music and touch-based gameplay clicks, so go on and buy a ticket. You don't want to miss the ride.
What's Hot: Excellent presentation featuring the work of graffiti artist Frames and a hip-hop score by Pp3d, easy to pick up and play, diverse enemies and explosions make the game fun to watch, three difficulty settings.
What's Not: It's still just a basic shooter, only 12 levels, imprecise tilt controls.