Many people weren’t happy when they released an iPhone exclusive chapter of Doom that turned out to be an on-rails shooter, or basically a glorified shooting gallery game. For me it as the first time I had actually enjoyed Doom, because shooting gallery games are action games for people who aren’t good at action games. The problem, however, is that the basic mechanics behind a shooting gallery game are quite simple, so you need to be careful that you do something to the finished product to spruce it up and make it stand out from the rest. Unfortunately, I don’t think Police Range went quite far enough in that regards. Maybe due to the setting they were trying to be somewhat authentic, but as a reality show host judge might say, it’s missing the “it” factor. It’s not a bad little game, but it’s not great either.
Police Range has two modes – Target Practice and Crime Alley. Target Practice is first and foremost about hitting a certain number of targets, but secondly it’s about accuracy. You get points for at least hitting the cardboard target at all, but you score more points if you hit the outline of the figure and even more if you hit a “kill zone”. It takes a while for this mode to get up and going, but once the required number of targets gets between 40 and 50 the targets start popping up fast and furious like, and you will start missing some. Thankfully once you’ve passed certain levels you can start at those levels, because while the beginning levels are good for easy points, they aren’t all that exciting.
Crime Alley is the typical scenario where you have a building with people popping in the windows, and you have to shoot the bad guys and not shoot the civilians. Hitting one of the innocent doesn’t automatically mean you lose, but try not to do that too often. Overall I find this to be the more interesting scenario of the two, but the visuals can be a bit of a detriment sometimes. The stylized black and white drawings look cool, but the civilians can look deceptively like the bad guys if you aren’t paying close enough attention. Add to that the fact that the weapons often blend in with the bad guys and you might do more than your fair share of accidentally shooting the good guys. Guess I just need some more practice – thankfully they have a range for that!
The game has score boards for both modes, and it also supports OpenFeint. Thankfully as part of what appears to be a growing trend, Police Range has it’s own screen to show our achievements as well so you don’t have to enter the OpenFeint interface if you don’t want to. Most of the achievements are of the “I reached level X in one game” or “I’ve beaten X number of levels altogether” variety, but there are a couple of interesting ones. My favorite is the award for hitting each type of civilian at least once in the same game. Not sure if that means I’m terrible at the game or I know what I’m aiming for!
The graphics won’t “wow” you, but they aren’t bad either. The background in Target Practice mode is a bit sparse, but Crime Alley is pretty decent, and the targets themselves look good. Of course the targets in Crime Alley are much more detailed, so overall I’d say Crime Alley has the better look, which is fine since that’s the more interesting scenario anyway. I do like some of the special effects like when the cards chip or just get blown to smithereens as they are shot. Sound is basically a matter of shots being fired and your gun reloading, as I suppose it would be out of place for cardboard targets to scream. On the other hand, some background music, even if it was subtle, would definitely take care of the intermittent silence. You can listen to your own tunes, but the Muppets and Hannah Montana don’t really seem like good background music for a shooting gallery game.
I suppose some of the lack of dynamism in Police Range might be due to a desire to make the game feel somewhat authentic, but the end result is that it’s nothing more than a solid but average game. Granted the Target Practice mode does get more interesting when things go chaotic and the visuals in Crime Alley are neat, but there’s nothing to really differentiate Police Range from dozens of other shooting games I’ve played. If you’ve gotta have ‘em all then there’s nothing wrong with adding this one to your collection, but there are more interesting choices out there.