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Marine Sharpshooter iPhone game just misses the mark

by Dan Kricke

At times, Marine Sharpshooter ($1.99) seems rooted in a realistic portrayal of snipers, making players select form several different rifles and instructing them to hold down a “breathe” button in order to steady their aim.

Yet at other times, the game veers into arcade nonchalance, including a reliance on headshots to take the enemy down and an inability to zoom out to reset perspective and find your next enemy. This contradictory gameplay ultimately makes Marine Sharpshooter much less than it could have been if it had picked a direction and ran with it.

Oddly, some of the game’s flaws make it more tense and interesting than it otherwise would have been. Despite the insistence in the tutorial that there is a way to zoom out your rifle, tapping the part of the screen you’re instructed to actually takes you out of the game. What this means is you can’t zoom out your rifle -- ever. Instead, you’ll find enemies by following the direction they’re shooting at you from. This is obviously a flaw in the design, but it creates a cool tension where you’re rushing your scope over the terrain to find out whom to shoot next.

The shooting is unfortunately less tense than frustrating. While a headshot will take down an enemy in a second, it often takes two or three shots to down an enemy if they’re shot anywhere else. Not being a sniper myself, it’s hard to say whether or not that’s accurate, but I’m a bit miffed that if I shoot someone more or less in the hands and legs, they’re not the least bit affected unless I shoot them two more times.

On the plus side, there are several different scenes you’ll get to shoot at. They become a bit irrelevant because you’re zoomed in all the time, but it’s nice to think that there was a bit of thought put into the design of a few different spaces.

Still, for a game with three game modes, things can feel a bit too familiar. The difference between the “Story Mode,” “Arcade Mode,” and “Quick Play” seem to be the inclusion of a few extra screens of story to read in story mode and an ability to pick your gun; hardly enough to warrant another mode.

There are worse ways to spend a few bucks, and Marine Sharpshooter isn’t without its merits, especially once you’ve read through the tutorial and have an idea of what you’re doing, but this could have been a better game with a little more commitment.