Thursday, November 1, 2012

Michelin Game - Trigger Fist

It is of no doubt that the iOS gaming scene has greatly progressed since 2008 when the the App store was first introduced, and it is simply amazing how far iOS gaming has come since then.

We have been constantly comparing mobile games to console gaming, and with every year, the gap between mobile and console gaming seems to be diminishing.

More importantly, the App Store has been home to a group of talented independent developers that have churned out brilliant games that have been downloaded in the millions. One example is Imangi's Temple Run.

Recently, Lake Effect, a small indie developer out of New York, has dropped Trigger Fist as a universal app for the iPad and the iPhone. I have been constantly playing this gem for the last 3 months, and have concluded that this is probably the best game of 2012 so far.

In The Heat of Battle In A Baghdad-like Market

It is basically a multiplayer Third Person Shooter modeled after Counter-Strike with no backstory at all. It is just 4 modes of online fragging and is fully integrated with Game Center for leaderboards.

The modes include Free-For-All Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, King Of The Hill and a very humorous mode called Sacred Goat, which is kind of like Capture The Flag, but you run around trying to hold on to a running goat for an accumulated total of 90 seconds.

For every mode, there is always 8 players, of which half can be made up of human players and the rest can be played by bots. For most matches, it does not last more than a few minutes, so each round is fast and furious and is perfect on the go.

Fighting It Out On A Nighttime Bridge

There are also 6 well designed maps and 3 different soldier classes to choose from, and you can even rotate the classes during a single match. There are also a ton of weapon upgrades and enhancements which you can also purchase via in-app purchases.

The maps all vary from the heat of a Baghdad like market, to a military base, each of the 6 maps have their own unique look and characteristics, and they are all equally exhilarating. Kudos to the level designers for making such fantastic levels.

And that is basically it, join a match and frag away and upgrade. It is also highly addictive, as you always want to come back for that one more round. And despite early difficulties finding online human players, this has already been sorted out and you should be able to match make with others quite smoothly using Game Center.

Wealth Of Upgrades

But what sets this game apart is the brilliant controls that has always been very difficult to replicate for touch screens for 3D shooters. Here, they basically took out the vertical aiming and restricts you to just horizontal movement and aiming.

Despite making this rather simple omission, and making it feel more like the original Wolfenstein's controls, it actually works out very well. It also handles zooming and locking in very well.

When your cursor moves over a target, it actually zooms in rather do a lock, and this is really perfect for games like this that allows you to aim and shoot very efficiently. And not even Gameloft's FPS games have nailed this aspect down as perfectly.

Sacred Goat

The graphics are in full iPad retina and hence they are crisp and sharp. It is not the most advanced like Gears Of Wars and the Modern Warfare series, but they are well designed and makes use of good lighting to make the locations look realistic and a joy to play.

The framerate is also buttery smooth and the character animations are nicely done. Games like this depend on speed rather than eye candy and here, it is nicely balanced to produce a very exciting fragfest.

The other aspect that stands out is the AI used in the bots. Most times, FPS games have AI bots that just stand/crouch there waiting to be picked off by you. Here, they behave almost frighteningly like real human players.

They constantly move around their environments, dodge, crouch, and in team modes, actually even know how to protect their comrades! This is something that I have never seen in any other iOS shooter, and even most human players are inferior to the AI bots.

Trigger Fist has also a very active community, with more than a million Game Center players and is still growing. But believe me, the AI bots are so good that I actually play the single player mode where I play against all bots. It also supports bluetooth and Game Center matchmaking.

For a dollar, you get the best online shooter experience on the iOS platform, and that is something you cannot buy even on gaming consoles. Quite frankly, it trumps most other console shooters in the replayability and addictiveness arena. The RPG elements of weapon upgrading will likely keep you returning for a long time.

The perfect controls, incredible AI and well designed levels all contribute to an almost perfect shooter game. And all this from only a small but talented bunch of designers and programmers. This is what the App Stores is good at, giving folks like Lake Effect the opportunity to reach a wider audience.

Trigger Fist is not only the best game of 2012 so far, but it is probably the best game I have played so far on the iPad or iPhone.

Trigger Fist (US$0.99) - Click here to download.

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