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iPhone App Video Review: Off The Leash

by Andrew Koziara

Off The Leash is one of the most addictive and replayable games I've reviewed in a while, created by Big Pixel Games. It does endless running in a unique new way with a very similar mission and in-app purchase structure to Jetpack Joyride, one of my absolute favorites of last year. The art style is great, and the game is fun, but it isn't quite as balanced as Jetpack Joyride, and requires much more grinding to unlock anything of worth.

So for some unknown reason, the government decides to go and ban all dogs, making them illegal. You play as a dog named Steve, and you've got to outrun the police after they break down your door. Along the way you'll rescue other dogs, growing from a small pack of pups into a stampeding herd of hounds. Your goal is to get through each checkpoint before the time limit runs out and the police block the area off. Along the way, you'll collect food, coins and all sorts of power-ups that will help you out. Things like a chili pepper that gives you a speed boost and makes you invincible, a time extension, a coin and food magnet, and the awesome double dog power-up, which instantly doubles the dogs in your pack. If you're lucky enough to get a few of these in a row, you'll have an obscene amount of dogs following you, and it's quite the sight to see. Occasionally you'll level-up, increasing your speed. You'll also go through a bonus zone, such as a lumber yard, surf pool, or go kart course full of coins, which is always fun.

You control this mob of mutts by simply tilting the device left and right to dodge obstacles. As your pack grows and spreads out into a massive "V" formation, it'll be really easy to lose all your outside dogs to said obstacles. By tapping the screen, you instantly form up into a single file line, but you also slow down immensely, meaning you have to use it carefully. The Jetpack Joyride similarities come in regarding the mission system. You're given a few random objectives to complete, and they aren't replaced until you complete all three. These reward you with coins and golden whistles, which are like second chance extra lives if you get caught. Just use a golden whistle, and "Big Dog" will come in and smash all police, but you can only use him once per run.

All those coins you accumulate are used to buy hats, upgrades, and eventually faster dogs. Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to get past a certain distance until you buy a faster dog, and it will take you forever to grind out enough money for even the slowest upgrade. Of course, you can buy more coins through in-app purchases. It isn't necessary, but without a boost that grind will be quite harrowing.

The art style is very colorful, making use of bold lines and strong geometric shapes everywhere for a unique look. The music and sound effects are awesome too. Both Game Center and OpenFeint achievements and leaderboards are supported in this completely free iPhone game. If it wasn't for that slow grind, this game would be just about perfect for what it is. Either way, it's totally free, and I recommend everyone download it right away and enjoy for as long as you can. It's a totally unique and original game that deserves to be played.

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