I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of the lone gunman, waiting in some concealed perch to take out his prey without the slightest hint that he exists. Personally, I’m too nervous to do something like that in real life, and even if I wasn’t I doubt I could hit the broadside of a barn with a bazooka. The virtual world is totally different, however – at least is some respects. Thankfully, games like Codename Lone Wolf allow me to live this fantasy virtually, so I don’t have to worry about hurting myself or some innocent bystander in the process.
Lone Wolf is actually a pretty decent little game. You start out as SWAT, and then move to Marine and Assassin as you complete 26 different missions around the world. The variance of the missions is quite refreshing. As SWAT you’ll do everything from taking out the lone gunman at a political rally to stopping a lunatic on a bus full of captives. On the marine levels you get to travel abroad, helping accomplish tasks from clearing terrorists sects out of war ravaged cities to slaying high ranking militant officers holed up in secluded camps. I’d imagine the diversity plays out the same in the assassin levels, though I haven’t quite made it there yet. I also thought it was cool that the bad guys react to your actions. For instance, in the scenario where some gunmen are holding a plane hostage, after you take out one gunman you only have so much time before the others will shoot the hostages, ending your mission. Finally, it’s neat to see that you’re not alone. Even though your partners don’t actively participate in the missions, you’ll see cops or other SWAT members or whatever is appropriate for the situation that you are in. To me that just adds an element of authenticity to the scenes.
The view is first person, with you looking down the scope of your gun at the enemies. The bottom of the screen is your trigger, and you use a swiping motion to pull it. At the top right of the screen is your magnification wheel. You can zoom in to 2, 4 or 8 times the normal view. This is especially helpful when you’re trying to shoot around hostages, but it’s usually best to cruise around the scene as a whole with no magnification. In general the game is played in portrait mode, but another cool feature is that you can turn the device to landscape to activate your camera mode, as some missions require you to take pictures of the scene.
The interface is actually pretty cool, but there are a couple of issues that can make things difficult on certain missions. The first problem is that it can be very hard to steady your crosshairs on the target, which is especially frustrating on missions that are timed or where the enemies change positions with any frequency. In one of the SWAT missions there is a ten second interval between the time you shoot the first gunman and then have to take out the second one, and I spent a considerable amount of time trying to complete that one simply because I couldn’t get a steady shot in that small amount of time. The other problem is that zooming in and out seems to place the view at random locations on the screen, instead of just zooming in / out on the location you’re currently viewing. Some missions require you to be zoomed in to get certain targets, but navigating a scene while zoomed can be tedious, so the random jumping can get frustrating. Thankfully most of the missions are playable despite these issues, and with the mission select screen you can bypass a mission if it’s particularly difficult for you.
The graphics are pretty decent. Everything is certainly detailed enough, and there are nice little touches like the bad guys dropping their guns when they’ve been hit or hostages falling to their knees and covering their heads after their captor has been slain. There were a few goofy things, though, like an odd perspective when there were lots of buildings in a scene or the animation sometimes when a person that had been shot crumpled to the ground. The thing I found the most amusing was the fact that no matter where you actually shot a bad guy, they always ended up with a bullet hole in the head. Sound effects were basically limited to your gun shots, so not much to say there. There could have at least been a sound when you snapped a picture. The music was actually good and suited the mood of the game quite nicely.
Installation Ease: 10
Fun Factor: 7
Addon Packs: NO
Suitable For Young Kids: NO
Online Support: YES
- Zooming in and out is jumpy
- Hard to stabilize crosshairs quickly
- Diverse set of scenarios
- Decent visuals
- Developer regularly making improvement
Shooting games are pretty popular on the iPhone, and with big name licenses like Shooter and Terminator, it takes something special to stand above the crowd. I think Codename Lone Wolf has what it takes. Codename’s strongest asset is it’s diverse range of scenarios, which in and of itself sets the game apart from others of it’s kind. Add to that a conceptually sound interface, decent graphics and a good soundtrack, and there’s a lot to like here. Let’s just hope there’s a bit more tweaking to come on the interface, especially in terms of maintaining a proper position when zooming and the ability to stabilize the crosshairs a little easier. Otherwise, the developer has a good thing going with Codename Lone Wolf.
Overall Rating: 7.9
Available Platforms: iPhone