Muscle-bound Officer Rob isn’t your stereotypical donut eating cop. While he’s big enough to pound any wrongdoer into the asphalt, his method of choice is to race his chopper around the city skyline and train its spotlight on getaway cars long enough for officers on the ground to give chase and barrel right into them. When this airborne cop is on the beat, you sure don’t want to be a Suspect in Sight (Out Now, $0.99)!
Games that eschew virtual buttons in favor of gestures have fared quite well on iOS lately, and the tilt-driven Suspect is no exception. The player’s major task – shadowing getaway cars as they try to shake off your auto-locking search light – is the kind that’s easy to get into but challenging to master. A handy radar makes finding suspects on the crowded roads simple; from that point on it’s all about getting a good handle on the chopper’s physics and reacting to the suspect’s sudden turns and speed shifts. You have one minute to round up as many suspects as possible, but a few bonus seconds for every bagged criminal keeps a skilled player in the game. The idea is to sharpen your skill over many, many short playthroughs until you rack up enough points to unlock new helicopters and bonus gameplay modes that shake up the formula a bit.
Unfortunately you have to sink quite a bit of time into Suspect before those rewards begin piling up. Don’t sweat the fact that the game released with two out of the three planned city stages; the third will be available by the time you would naturally unlock it, and I can say that with confidence even though I have no clue when the content update is going to happen. Even if you’re good enough to rack up score multipliers by remaining locked on to suspects throughout a chase, unlocking all the game’s content is a torturously long endeavor. Therefore Suspect has a fundamentally repetitive feel, but at $0.99 it works well as a game of beat-your-own-record.
It definitely helps that Jujubee pulled off excellent tilt mechanics. The game automatically calibrates to whatever position you’re in when you enter a level, saving some setup work on the player’s part — though you can calibrate manually during play. There’s supposedly an option to switch from the accelerometer to a virtual joystick but I didn’t find it on my iPod Touch 4, nor did I feel a need for it.
One thing Suspect could use in updates is a proper live tutorial; a few important gameplay nuances only clicked for me over time, and some players are sure to feel like a fish out of water at first. Blame part of that on the – ahem – distractingly gritty artwork that accompanies the tutorial, and there’s plenty more where that came from in comic book stills that introduce the game’s three environments. Suffice it to say this might not be one for the kiddies. Whatever your take on the art, you have to appreciate Suspect’s sound design, filled to the brim with sirens and radio chatter. In a more lavish production in this genre it would be great if this kind of radio chatter actually fed into the gameplay; for now it sets an appropriate atmosphere.
iFanzine Verdict: A great one to pick up if you’re looking for a bargain-priced but solid tilt controlled game and enjoy challenging yourself as much as the leaderboards. While Suspect packs some much-needed content variety, you’ll have to get over any aversion to repetitive play or else you’ll never hang around long enough to see it.