Contract Killer 2

Contract Killer 2 iPhone, thumbnail 1
This is a freemium game review, in which we give our impressions immediately after booting a game up, again after three days, and finally after seven days. That's what the strange sub-headings are all about.

Here it is - the sequel to the ever so popular first Contract Killer. Glu's freemium shooter is back with a bang (and a stab, and a throttle), pitching you against hordes of mob goons in ranged combat.

We thought we'd make it our mission to download it, play it, and let you know whether you should do the same. Here are the results of that endeavour.

First impressions
After a visually impressive and unusually atmospheric (for a freemium game) introductory cinematic, you're given the impression that story is going to be taking centre stage for this cover-based shooter.

I forget the name of the character you play, but you've got a neato scar over one of your eyes, a no-nonsense haircut, and a gung-ho attitude. You've decided that after being blasted in the face by a rocket launcher you're going to get revenge on those who decided to mess with you.

Luckily, you've been contacted by a mysterious lady who says she's happy to help you find them, should you take on contract killings for her.

Then you're into the game proper. Tucked away in a high-up vantage point, it's up to you to wipe out the enemies below. The game's high production values and Glu pedigree are immediately evident: it looks great.

UI design is clean and clear, with a 'reticule' icon to look down your sights, a 'shield' icon to take cover, arrows to swap between your two weapons, and so on. Getting to everything you want to use is simple and quick.

It's also very much a high fidelity experience, with well-constructed characters, attention to detail in the weapon models, and intricate environment design. Weapons have real clout when they kick back, too - the audio is impactful and realistic.

Day 3: Losing the plot
There's definitely a reason I forgot the name of the title's lead: any notion of story has been almost completely dropped. It's a shame, too, because the game's structure is perfect for bite-sized storytelling.

Choosing from a selection of contracts to take on, each set in slightly modified versions of maps you'll see time and time again, you're given one objective and need to meet it in order to complete the stage. With a timer ticking away, you must kill all enemies in an area, assassinate a specific target, sneak out with alerting anyone, or just escape under fire.

This could have been accompanied by dialogue and plot advancement, but there's nothing like that to be found for the vast majority of the missions. Occasionally a cut-scene rolls and you're given more information on world events around you, but otherwise there's little development in this area.

But the systems of play are totally fine, if a little basic. You can move from cover point to cover point with a tap of the screen, and then you simply need to pop out and take shots at the gang members around you. There's no aim-assist in place to compensate for fatter fingers on the touchscreen, but it's otherwise about as accurate as any other shooter on iOS.

You can melee enemies if they haven't seen you, and there are quieter weapons to dispatch enemies silently.

The timer adds a nice bit of pressure to the proceedings, but otherwise encounters feel flat and lifeless. There are no explosive sequences on the scale of a Call of Duty - just pitched warfare whack-a-mole - the bad guys stick their head out from cover, and you put bullets in them.

Day 7: The kill
It's strange, but the further you get in Contract Killer 2, the less you want to play it. It's a combination of two things, really - the first being its rather aggressive monetisation model.

You'll need better weapons than your starting kit for anything other than the easy missions. Your initial kit isn't simply underpowered - requiring multiple body shots to take down enemies - but it's also wildly inaccurate.

The sniper rifle is the worst of all. You can take all the time in the world lining up a headshot on a distant enemy, but more often than not it'll miss its target.

This means you'll need to get in close to enemies whenever possible, but since there's so many firing at you at the same time you'll lose health quickly this way. Medikits are given out infrequently, and though body armour can be purchased to take away a percentage of damage they break all too quickly.

With money only awarded when you complete a mission or an in-game challenge, there are very few opportunities to grind enough cash to even the odds in your favour. This makes progress practically non-existent until you plonk down real world moolah.

Secondly, the shooting just isn't that much fun after you've been at it a while. It's not dynamic, it's not exciting, and the handful of areas used repeatedly begin to tire. The paucity of story leaves you little reason to keep going, too, and in the end there's simply nothing driving you forward to see more of the game.

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