If video games are to believed, our future is gonna be pretty grim. And Blue Shadow Games’ App Store debut, Death Cop, which boasts cyber-genetic creatures knocking seven bells out of each other in the dust of decimated cities and against the charming backdrop of post-apocalyptic wastelands, does nothing to dispel the myth.
Piloting a selection of fearsome mechs, it’s up to you, the player, to take excessive force to an explosive new level, and have a shot at policing this war ravaged world by annihilating everything that moves with an arsenal of upgradable weaponry.
Death Cop opens with a rather impressive snippet of FMV which sets the dystopian tone and introduces the battling ‘bots. Having impatiently twiddled your thumbs through a lengthy loading screen and settled upon one of the hulking war-machines from the three on offer, it’s straight into the action.
Level 1 acts in lieu of a tutorial and sees you stomping around a strikingly large and detailed urban environment, blasting enemies, trashing scenery and collecting power cells, whilst getting to grips with the game’s controls.
A pair of virtual joy-sticks are used to navigate and fire your weapon respectively, while the camera can be (somewhat awkwardly) manipulated by touching either side of the screen. You can also cycle through available weapons, reload, and call up a map by tapping onscreen icons.
All in all, Death Cop’s controls and interface are fairly intuitive, meaning it’s not long before you’re trading bullets with a diverse range of foes, blowing up parked cars, razing communication towers to the ground, and reducing walls to rubble.
For the best part, gunning down enemies and causing as much carnage as possible is as enjoyable as it sounds. The game looks fantastic in motion, environments are pleasingly complex and filled with fully destructible objects, and the shoot ’em up action comes thick and fast.
As you battle your way through the game’s 16 missions and diverse array of environments, which range from a frozen wasteland to an abandoned prison in the desert, more powerful weapons are unlocked and an RPG style levelling up system comes into play. As you progress and level-up, Mechs can be equipped with an array of upgrades, including better guns, a rocket-launcher, flamethrower, electric saw, and more. They can also be tinkered with and fully customized between missions.
All good, but what really impresses about Death Cop is the developer’s decision to expand on the usual series of mindless gun fights this type of game usually trots out, by keeping missions and goals varied, throwing some frequent and suitably epic boss battles into the mix, and further spicing things up with the inclusion of FPS and on-rails sections that truly do help keep the game feeling fresh and exciting for its duration.
Sadly, the switch from traditional top-down perspective to a first-person viewpoint of the action for certain levels is a bit jarring, and isn’t helped by the fact these sections are ill-served by half-baked controls, which render shoot-outs overly clunky affairs. On-rails levels fare better, but the traditional third-person segments are by far the most playable and exciting.
So while the medley of game modes are a bit of a mixed bag, the controls/camera issues are by no means dealbreakers, and are nothing that can’t be ironed out come update time. Overall, Death Cop is a good looking, solidly made dual-stick shooter.
iFanzine Verdict: Death Cop signifies a valiant effort on the developer’s part to take the dual-stick shooter in an interesting new direction, and, for the best part, the mecha inspired action, RPG elements, and diverse range of levels and missions gel well. Despite some issues with the controls, I’d definitely recommend fans of the genre adding this to their collection of dual-stick shooters.