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Over the few days that I've been playing with it, Silent Scope, an iPhone/iPod Touch version of the barely memorable late 90's arcade shooter, has quite simply blown me away. I was just not prepared for a port this badly conceived, poorly executed and horrible to play.
If you glanced at last week's review of Metal Gear Solid Touch, you might have been expecting a more positive entry this week, pretty much regardless of the game in question. However, those of you that read carefully might have picked up on the not so cryptic clue hidden in my rant against Metal Gear Solid Touch that things might not improve so soon. At that point I'd literally only fiddled with Silent Scope for about a minute, but that was enough for the realization to dawn that I probably had an even more painful experience waiting on the horizon.
It's not like we're all about aesthetics here at Game People, in fact we pride ourselves at being able to look beyond the outward appearance of a game to its very soul. As I've emphasised before, one of the great things about the iGaming revolution is that it is providing a platform for games and developers that would never be able to compete with the 'big boys' when it comes to looks, but, given the chance, stand out as being brilliant regardless. However, I must confess, when confronted with something as ugly as Silent Scope I can't help but wince. This appears to be just the original arcade game ported across with no more work done than the grafting in of an ill fitting and poorly devised new control scheme. Jagged is not the word for the look of this game - I was initially wary of holding my Touch as the camera panned around, lest I lose a finger to the side of one of those buildings.
I was initially wary of holding my Touch as the camera panned around, lest I lose a finger to the side of one of those buildings.
However, what really takes the biscuit is that not only does it look like a ten year old game, it also plays like its making very heavy demands of the hardware. There is no way that a device as powerful as my Touch, which can handle something as beautiful and intricate as Real Racing without so much as a hint of lag, should run a game like this so poorly - this is lazy porting of the highest order.
I'm afraid I can't really offer any real insight into the details of the story, mainly because I was skipping through as much as I could to try to minimise the amount of my life this thing was wasting, but it's something to do with rescuing the U.S. president and his family from terrorists. A terrorist appears on the screen surrounded by a circle of red arrows (Time Crisis style) and you have to train your sight on said baddy and tap the screen to shoot him dead. If he's far away, you have to double-tap the screen to zoom in and get a clear shot.
If you remember the original being in your local arcade - and there is no real reason to assume you would - then you might recall that one of its distinctive features was that, unlike most arcade shooters, the gun was fixed to the machine, forcing you to adopt a proper sniper-style stance and to use your whole body to control your aim. Given that, and the level of enhanced physicality and immersion that the controls of the iPhone/Touch offer, it strikes me as strange that Konami haven't even attempted to include any visceral aspect in this version and instead plumped for the most boring of control schemes, involving only screen tapping.
What is more, not only are the controls really boring, but they don't even work well. The problem is that in order not to avoid the game getting all confused between your single and double taps you have top be painfully slow and deliberate - which is fine for the first stage in which you have to take out terrorists whose 'terror' activities seem to involve standing still with guns, but when, later on, you have to speed up or shoot at moving targets, things become unworkable. And that assessment is not even taking into account the frequent lag that can mean a significant caesura between your tap and the shot. There are also serious problems when it comes to quickly and accurately moving youíre aim around whist zoomed in, which again isnít a problem when you're shooting at stationary or slow/predictably moving people, but is a nightmare when you have to shoot at something like the pilot of the terrorists' jet.
Silent Scope is jaggy, laggy and less fun to play with than my aunty Maggy.
I panned Metal Gear Solid Touch because I felt patronised by the apparent underlying logic that I would be satisfied by an utterly unremarkable shooting gallery game if it had Metal Gear Solid content draped all over it - but at least that is a playable game. Silent Scope clearly has no such glossy coating, but it does offer the promise of a slightly more interesting format, being a rail shooter as opposed to a simple gallery. However, its controls have been so poorly implemented that it's nearly impossible to play, let alone enjoy.
Silent Scope is jaggy, laggy and less fun to play with than my aunty Maggy. Initially it will offend your eyes, then it will try your patience, and eventually it will leave you wanting to smash up your iPhone and gnaw off your hands in order that such as this never happen again. It's not fun; I'd not recommend you buy it.
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