Many developers have turned toward the shooter genre looking for success on the app store in this relatively depleted area of development. On the whole, however, developers and consumers alike tend to ignore shooters on the App Store simply because the virtual control pad does not lend itself well to the genre as we are familiar with. Well, Lake Effect Apps have decided to throw their hat into the ring with this new game, Trigger Fist, and it is definitely worth a look for the trigger happy junky on the go.
Officially available today in the App Store, this new third-person shooter from Lake Effect Applications neatly packages the core experiences of Counter-Strike, SOCOM, and Modern Warfare for your mobile-gaming convenience. Think: Counter-Strike light, in third-person and with a COD-like leveling and class system.
It isn’t gorgeous, and it won’t be revolutionary, but Trigger Fist places a clear focus on what drives the pure concept of a game: playability. With its new, fluid shoot-and-drag control scheme, classic 4v4 online multiplayer modes, and a bevy of unlockable weapons and perks, it ranks among the best shooters I’ve played on iOS to date.
Like the popular games mentioned above, Trigger Fist revolves around online multiplayer. You won’t find any sort of campaign mode here. What you will find, though, are four classic multiplayer modes, all available from the get-go: free-for-all, team deathmatch, team king of the hill, and team “catch the goat,” which essentially amounts to the “oddball” game mode from Halo. I have no idea why Lake Effect chose to include goats, but it’s a quirky addition that gives the game character. And, for some reason, people who have played the game so far seem to love them.
Setting up games with other players is easy. You can either let the game choose random opponents for you, join with players from the Game Center, or connect locally with other devices via Bluetooth. Since I played this game before it was officially released, my experience with it was, sadly, entirely single-player (nobody was online!).
For times when you don’t have access to Wi-Fi or 3G, or for gamers like me who simply have no friends, Trigger Fist allows all four of its game modes to be played single-player against bots. Really, ridiculously good bots. Lake Effect has done well with their AI here. The learning curve, for me, was around one or two hours, but veteran TPS players should be able to pick it up more quickly.
More than anything else, the multiplayer potential for Trigger Fist is huge. I would imagine that hardcore shooter fans will still be playing this game weeks after they’ve bought it. Between equipping my player, playing quick rounds, changing teams, sorting through 6 different maps, and doing it all over again, I couldn’t help but feel like I was back in the days of good old LAN parties. With three classes (gunner, rifleman, and scout) and a decent set of achievements, the multiplayer experience offered here should provide a good deal of replay value.
As many of you are likely all too aware, the shooter genre has historically struggled with its transition to the touch screen. Between simulated joysticks and tilt-to-aim mechanics, developers have been trying for years to come up with a control scheme that rivals a mouse and keyboard or a controller. Unfortunately for all involved, they haven’t found much success.
So how does Trigger Fist deal with this issue? It takes away your y-axis control. That’s right; in this game you drag left and right to aim your gun, but you can’t aim up or down. This mechanic takes a bit of getting used to, but it isn’t nearly as bad as it might seem. Ultimately, having control of only the x-axis allows you more energy to deal with everything else happening on screen – grenades, melee attacks, and vaulting over cover to name a few. The downside to not having a y-axis option: no headshots. Save for the rare instances when a crouching enemy is just the right distance away, all shots in this game are to the torso.
If it sounds like I’m excited about this game, it’s because I am. Trigger Fist is a very solid iOS game. But that doesn’t mean it’s without flaws. Even though the strictly x-axis control scheme is better than your typical touchscreen shooter, it’s far from perfect. Often times I found myself dragging the reticle too far left, too far right, too far left, then getting shot to death before I even managed to get a round off. Aiming is even more difficult with pistols, and explosive ammunition is completely hit or miss (great pun, I know). The game does provide a slight aim-assist by default, but I found it only mildly helpful at best.
One slightly disappointing truth about Trigger Fist is that its 4v4 online multiplayer games can only hold 4 human players. Which means that at least half of every game will be composed of bots. While bots can be fun, as we all learned from Goldeneye, it would be nice to have the option of playing all-human 2v2 games.
Lastly, my least favorite part of Trigger Fist has to be the colored icons above each player’s head. Including enemies. That, combined with a tattletale radar, essentially makes stealth a non-factor in this game. As such, gameplay is mostly conducive to constant running and gunning.
All in all, I’m very impressed with Trigger Fist. According to Lake Effect Applications, the game has been in development for over 2 years, and it shows. There’s no doubt that they’ve taken detailed notes from popular AAA shooters – perks, mid-round class changes, noob tube, etc . – but they’ve put it all together in a welcome way that plays really well on iOS — especially the iPad.
Trigger Fist was released today on the App Store with a price tag of $4.99 and a file size of just under 200 MB. I wouldn’t worry about the cost; I’ve already unlocked a good portion of the game’s weapons and perks and I have yet to be tempted by an IAP. In my opinion, that’s a clear indicator of a good game.
If you’d like to learn a little bit about Lake Effect’s back story, check out their site for a letter from the owner.[review pros="Highly playable, 4v4 online multiplayer, a mobile dose of what classic TPS players love" cons="Controls still aren't perfect, missing a few key features" score=82]