Lock ‘n’ Load is a new dual stick shooter from Gamelab, published by Chillingo. It’s very cartoony with several horror themes and references, some amusing writing and self-aware tongue in cheek humor that applies to both horror and video game conventions, and is generally fun to play. There are some annoying aspects regarding controls, unskippable dialogue, and the pushing of in-app purchases, but it’s still definitely enjoyable and worth a look.
You play as an old retiree who gets angry when the evil minions of a demonic little girl ruin your flower beds. You quickly throw on a hockey mask for some reason, grab your machine gun, and go to town on the evil, mostly because they’re hooligans that are making a commotion rather than because they’re demonic and evil. The game has some amusing writing, although I hate that I have to sit through each voice acting clip. I should really be allowed to skip from one bit of dialogue to the next instead of only being able to skip entire scenes.
The levels are fairly straightforward. You move through each level, with the demonic girl occasionally throwing up a magic force field and forcing you to kill all enemies before moving on. There’s nothing to the level design, and they primarily exist to change up the scenery, but there is a surprising amount of visual variety. They do occasionally mix things up with different mini-games such as a first person shooting gallery, and the boss fights were pretty creative and well done. The game gets extra points for letting you play as a grandma with two massive Gatling guns attached to her wheelchair.
As you play, you’ll seek out the three hidden packages in each level and pick up in-game cash. The cash is used to buy new guns, abilities, upgrades, and costumes. The variety of the costumes is fun and all, but unfortunately you don’t make very much money through normal play. You can also unlock an entire extra chapter of levels for 1500 in-game dollars, but with the various upgrades, it’ll take forever to get that far. It’s just a shame that so much of the games vast amount of extra content is hidden behind high prices, making the IAP feel pushy. My other complaint is with the auto-aim. It’s a very hard game with auto-aim turned off, but even turned on, your main machine gun seems to lag behind its target quite often. It isn’t game breaking, but just mildly annoying at times.
The cartoony 3D visuals are crisp and clean, and the music and sounds were very well done too. There is a nice variety of enemies and a lot of creativity and imagination went into this app. A whole lot of people are experience crashing issues as well, so download with caution. Chillingo’s online Crystal network is, of course, supported. It isn’t perfect by any means, but for an iOS Universal game that is available for just one dollar at the time of this review, I’d definitely say Lock ‘n’ Load is a worthy new dual-stick shooter.