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“It’s raining bacon, motherf—kers!”
The appropriately named John Kannon yells this to no one in particular in the first level of 9mm, since the hoods he’s targeting are huddled idiotically in a room below the skylight the badass cop is about to crash through. Then, cue the slow motion gunplay and predictable South Central-ish gangland soundtrack -- while you’re taking out these worthless thugs with extreme prejudice, you may think to yourself, “Gee, I feel like I’ve played this game before.”
You’re probably not wrong, though it may be easy to get sucked into 9mm’s hype. With Gameloft’s name and production values backing it (not to mention the fairly meaty $6.99 price tag) the game certainly purports itself as an action game tour-de-force for iOS. Don’t give its shiny exterior too much credit though -- this is just another bland shooter, and one with frustratingly finicky controls, to boot.
More insultingly, 9mm is a tired, unending patchwork of cliché, from its thoughtless stereotypes and awful script to a design that blatantly rips off Max Payne, only a decade too late and using much less imagination. As it stands, 9mm does exactly what you’d expect from a contemporary third-person shooter: minimal environment interaction, QTE-esque scenarios and obligatory loads of violence. There’s also bullet time -- which, even if the developers’ hands were forced by corporate interests, is a stupid idea these days. But it’s also one of the only ways you can actually keep Kannon alive as he goes on a one-man-army quest to stop the distribution of some Mexican meth (yawn).
I might be able to forgive 9mm its trespasses (to some degree) if gameplay was even a step above competent, but the control scheme also makes that an impossibility. Moving or strafing Kannon works okay, but aiming and camera movement is taken care of by swiping around the screen, resulting in often imprecise targeting in the heat of battle. In later stages you can’t afford to stop to line up a good shot, so unless you stick with Kannon’s shotgun, effective combat quickly becomes a tiresome chore.
To make matters worse, the unanchored D-pad will show up wherever you happen to place your left thumb -- a great idea in theory, but it lingers for a second or two even after you involuntarily raise your thumb from the screen. Since you’ll be paying attention to the action and not the placement of your digits, expect to have Kannon run headfirst into gunfire or something equally as irritating fairly often. To its credit, 9mm is technically a very sound game. But given its hobbled controls, painfully dated premise and design, that’s just not enough.
The bottom line. You want a good graphically impressive iOS action game? Pick up Dead Space or Rage HD instead.
iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, third- or fourth-gen iPod touch, and iPad running iOS 3.1.3 or later
Great graphics and high production values. Competent design. Universal app.
Finicky, hard-to-deal with controls, the premise, design and gameplay are painfully stuck in 2004.