Stick to cover and come out firing in this thrilling post-apocalyptic shooter.
Smart phone critics refuse to acknowledge iPhone and iPad as gaming platforms because they lack buttons and analog sticks. It's a valid point, as virtual sticks cannot compare to an Xbox 360 controller's, yet developers attempt to shoehorn console quality experiences onto these devices anyway, oftentimes with disastrous results.
That said, some of the best developers take into account the limitations and strengths of smart phones to create compelling titles that feel more intuitive.
Case in point, Epoch, a cover based third person shooter that ditches console inputs for user-friendly swipe controls.
Set within a post apocalyptic universe, players take control of a robot in search of a kidnapped princess. Standing in its way is a variety of enemy bots with specialized attacks, whether that involves firing grenades or unleashing a destructive laser.
Success involves drawing their fire by swiping left or right, which automatically instructs the robot to roll in those respective directions; you may also swipe upwards to jump from one location to the next. From there, swiping down puts it in cover, while swiping up launches attack mode, where tapping a robot causes yours to auto fire until A.) that enemy explodes, or B.) you touch another target.
What ensues is a fun ballet of bullets, rolls and leaps, as you narrowly avoid explosions while spewing hot death from the weapon of choice, pausing to toss a grenade or rain missiles upon your foes; both attacks recharge over time.
Destroy everything, and you'll earn credits that go towards the purchase of new weapons, like the Kinetic Cannon, Laser Rifle, Grenade Launcher and Corrosive Cleaner (cool name). You can even upgrade those aforementioned grenades and missiles.
In addition, Epoch features different logs from the recently deceased, which fill in bits of the story.
Compared to most combat games, this one has obvious limitations. The lack of an analog stick means you cannot move around the battlefield, yet this is more of a blessing, since the cover based mechanics are so well executed.
Meanwhile, this is without question one of the best looking games on the App Store, thanks to Uppercut Games' skill with Epic's Unreal Engine and the developers' sheer imagination. Skulls litter the ground, ruins lay in the distance and bad guys blow up nicely. What's more, everything has a layer of grime on it, further proof that something horrible took place, as if those skulls weren't enough.
On the downside, you have to unlock two harder difficulties, and the game's a breeze on easy, with only the final boss putting up much of a fight. And since it takes a while to accumulate the cash necessary to pick up the most powerful gear, this means replaying previously completed stages. It could be a deal breaker, depending how into the game you are.
With this in mind, Epoch is a wonderfully addictive and gorgeous shooter that serves as a powerful showpiece for iPhone and iPad graphics. We just want more, which at the end of the day is a true testament to this game's greatness.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1.3 or later.
What's Hot: Smart cover based shooting, nice variety of weapons, gorgeous graphics, traces of a story.
What's Not: Too short.