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"Level 22" is not a glamorous name. It’s generic. It doesn’t inspire excitement. Without context, it could mean practically anything. So it’s the perfect way to reference a floor of an equally generic corporate tower, which also happens to be where you work. The trouble here is that it’s a weekday, and after a night of heavy celebrating for your birthday, you’re not at your desk. If the boss finds out you’re late, you’re fired. How do you keep your job?
If you’re a fan of Hideo Kojima’s classic, quirky stealth-action series, Metal Gear Solid, you probably already know that your only recourse is to sneak all the way back up to your desk on the 22nd floor through increasingly complex scenarios. You’ll need to use items from around the office, like newspapers to hide behind and cups of coffee to disable electronics. Even if you don’t know Metal Gear, Level 22 has plenty of humorous potential. You can bypass rooms by crawling into ventilation shafts, for instance, or lure security guards away from their posts with donuts. Staying out of sight is obviously crucial, and philosophically this is a pretty faithful homage – it even has some fun puzzle-like boss fights and a top-down perspective.
It’s too bad, since for its humor and cleverly re-appropriated mechanics, technical hitches leave the game almost unplayable. To begin with, you can’t see very much of the screen (nor can you zoom out), so watching coworker patrol routes isn’t easy. You can drag the camera around with a finger, but its non-adjustable, off-the-charts sensitivity means a small flick will send it flying to the edge of the screen. Since stealth design relies heavily on timing and quick reactions to slip in unnoticed, effectively moving past obstacles either results in panicked camera re-correction after too heavy a swipe or a frantic retreat after your moment of opportunity has passed. And that’s not counting the somewhat unresponsive controls.
The bottom line. Level 22 needs some crucial fixes if it hopes to be a competent Metal Gear tribute.
iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later
Goofy premise and graphics. Good Metal Gear-style stealth mechanics. Script has some charm.
No way to zoom map out. Ridiculous unadjustable camera sensitivity makes it hard to keep track of action. Obscured views don't mesh well with premise timing-based gameplay. At-times unresponsive controls.