Ah yes… the stick-figure shoot ‘em up. Just you, a gun, and an endless supply of stick figures to plow down for your cathartic gaming pleasure. This type of game would hardly be familiar to a classic gamer, as the genre – if you can call it that – emerged very recently. Games like this first sprang up on sites like Miniclip and MoFunZone in the early 2000s and they arrived at a time when browser games’ performance first began to peak. And since it was nearly impossible at the time to steam high-end graphics, folks had to settle for killing stick men.
Today, these games have largely fallen by the wayside. In their place we have smart phone gaming, which as you surely know, offers graphics and Internet speeds that would make early 2000s Internet users’ eyes pop out of their sockets. The game that I will be reviewing here, Tactical Assassin, would not make your average techy lose their precious eyes. Instead, the game seems to be a Mashup of at least a dozen different shoot-em-up games that bowed on the web 10 years ago.
But this is not to say that Tactical Assassin is a bad game. In fact, after just a few minutes of play, the addicting quality of being able to shoot down stick-figures with a high-powered rifle comes out of the woodwork and reminds you why you spent so many hours playing Flash games instead of going to class. The simplistic graphics, the looping music, the corny firing and reloading sounds – they’re all there.
The “premise” of this relatively one-dimensional game is simple: kill stick figures. You see the world through your sniper scope and aim by either tilting your phone, or opting for the simpler on-screen joystick (which I recommend). You click on a mission, complete your kills and move on.The challenge does increase as you move through the 18 levels available, and there are small bits of depth that pop out at times, such as not being allowed to harm civilians or needing to pick off multiple enemies in certain orders. But overall, this is a game that would take even a casual gamer an hour or two to finish.
A good game to compare this to is Clear Vision 2, which we reviewed a couple weeks back and takes a similar amount of time to beat. Tactical Assassin has only 18 levels to Clear Vision’s 25, and Clear Vision 2 also has more weapons and at least an attempt at a storyline, but otherwise they are quite similar. The graphics in both titles are an enhanced version of what you have come to expect. The backgrounds and buildings are cell-shaded and when you shoot an enemy there is a location-dependent bullet hole, realistic blood splatter and a nice feel to the way your enemy falls. It’s solid overall, but nothing to write home about.
One area in which Tactical Assassin excels is the challenge mode. This mode allows you to compete in challenges that truly hearken back to the Internet shoot-em-ups of yore. You are given a task such as ‘clear all 15 targets’ and then made to complete it as fast as possible. It is very quick but the ability to challenge yourself to do better than the last time provides at least a smidgen of replayability.
Complaints? Well, other than the lack of depth, my biggest complaint about Tactical Assassin has to be the music. The dark menu theme plays over and over, even when you have switched to another app. As I am writing this review, the music is playing while my Nexus’ screen is off, and good Lord is it annoying! Of course, it is easy to remember to just kill the task, but it still feels like an oversight on the part of the developers.
Tactical Assassin is a joy to play and though the graphics won’t stun you, they are perfectly adequate. However, its lack of depth, lack of customization and simple oversights like the looping music mean that it is just barely worth the dollar it costs. If these games were your jam in 2001, by all means pick up Tactical Assassin and enjoy the nostalgia but if you want a real shoot-‘em-up you should probably look elsewhere.
2.8/5 – Tactical Assassin provides hours of fun, but therein lies the problem: it’s only a couple hours. This simplistic shoot-em up is solid at first, but fails to deliver on replayability and overall production quality. Your dollar is probably better spent on a McChicken.