Overdosing on saccharine-sweet and cutesy titles can be a bit of an occupational hazard when working in the iOS games biz, so thankfully Gameloft have cooked up an antidote in the shape of 9mm (out now, $6.99), a hard-R rated, adult-toned third-person shooter that blends Grand Theft Auto’s gritty aesthetic with pulse-pounding slow-mo gunfights à la Max Payne.
9mm grips from the get-go with an intense scene-setting opening mission. You step into the shoes of grizzled L.A. cop John “Loose” Kannon (I kid you not) as he and his team violently take down a gang of meth dealers who have holed up in a dingy warehouse. By the time the gun smoke clears Kannon and his crew have talked themselves into turning corrupt and decided to divvy up the millions of dollars they find stacked on a table. Bad move, because, unbeknownst to them, the crook they just killed and robbed was none other than notorious crime kingpin El Diablo’s ickle brother.
El Diablo reacts by sending his private army of goons out to exact bloody revenge on these dirty cops. Meanwhile, Kannon – simply itching to live up to that utterly ridiculous moniker – elects to fight fire with firepower and stuffs as many semi-automatic weapons as he can down the front of his baggy jeans and hits the mean streets intent on killing his way to the top of the criminal food chain!
Cue twelve levels of deliriously violent, high octane action that see you trading bullets and profanities with a seemingly never ending stream of cookie-cutter gangbangers in authentically seedy locations like strip-clubs and crack dens. Okay, okay, 9mm’s obvious and hackneyed yarn has been haphazardly spun together from a hotchpotch of action and crime flicks, its incessantly sweary dialogue comes off as eye-rollingly juvenile and the characters are laughable archetypes one and all, but, trust me, kicking down doors, diving through windows and eviscerating droves of scumbags all while menacing gangsta rap blares through your ear buds looks and feels so achingly cool it’s pretty much impossible not to enjoy this straight-to-video style ride in spite of yourself.
Gameplay-wise, 9mm has a scatter-gun approach that nails most of its targets but misses others by a country mile. The crux of the action, the hyper-kinetic shootouts, are an utter blast and Gameloft have done a bang-up job of recreating Max Payne’s lauded “bullet time” effect for these sections. However, whenever the gunplay takes a backseat 9mm instantly becomes a whole lot less entertaining.
A handful of uninspired quick-time events which task you with mindlessly tapping and swiping onscreen icons to propel Kannon through foot chases, unlock doors, or aid him in interrogating perps (read: beating them to a bloody pulp) are a bit of a bore and interrupt the game’s otherwise blistering pace. Also, the game’s poorly scripted and too-frequent cutscenes add absolutely nothing to the overall experience and are another low-point. Still, if you’re anything like me, the sheer entertainment value of the over-the-top set pieces will be more than enough to keep you playing 9mm to completion.
In addition to its single player campaign, 9mm also boasts a duo of multiplayer modes set across four maps based on areas from the main game. Up to 12 players can partake in explosive gun battles online while a two player bluetooth death-match is also included.
iFanzine Verdict: Overall, this Max Payne-esque shoot ’em up is a bit of a mixed-bag; the edgy tone and achingly cool gunfights impress but dull quick-time events and too-frequent cut scenes break up the action and bring the whole experience down a notch.