Thursday, November 15, 2007

Free Download Urban Attack

The first person shooter is a genre that has not fared particularly well on mobile. It's not really the fault of the developers either. Ever since the mid 90s, the addition of that fateful third dimension hasn't just meant 3D graphics, but also the abiliy to have some sense of the ability to look around freely. Sure, you couldn't do this in the original Doom, but since then most of the old classics like this golden oldie have been reworked by fans to add this feature. The power of the free-look potential of the mouse is surely what has made the dual analogue stick design the favourite for most of the major peripheral manufacturers. After all, what is the Wii's Wiimote apart from an attempt to take the versatility of the humble mouse on to the next level.

Just look at your mobile phone handset. There's no way it can compare to these more dedicated control methods. If you've read anything about Urban Attack, you may well have consigned it to the same fate as some of the disappointing first-person shooters we've seen in the past. However, Urban attack isn't really a first person shooter in the way that you're probably thinking. It's much more a gallery shooter in the vein of Virtua Cop or House of the Dead. If this revelation is making you ache to click onto another review, wait up a minute because this game is something more than a little special.

The main stand-out aspect of the game is its visuals. They use vector graphics that made 3D visuals viable back in the early days of the arcades. Perhaps the screenshots won't bowl you over, but in action, Urban Attack is truly stunning. One of Vivendi's main aims was to make a game that would offer much higher compatibility than the majority of 3D games out there, and their method seems to have worked a treat because even on a fairly modest handset the visuals are fluid.

If anything, the angular vector graphics are well suited to the game, since it is a futuristic tale of robots and revolution set in 2046. You spend your time firing your way through grim cityscapes that wouldn't look out of place in a sequel to Blade Runner. Just to make things clear though, for the most part you don't actually have any real control over where you go in the city, except from one token section where you get to choose from two routes at a crucial junction in the story.

Instead, you get to see the city in what appear to be engine-generated cut scenes. You make you way to a certain point, stop for a bit, shoot some bad guys, then move on. The combat controls are very intuitive. The screen is sectioned into 9 areas that correspond to the buttons on the keypad, and a press of one of the keys will shoot an enemy in the relevant section. This would perhaps be a little drab if it weren't for the dynamism of your enemies. They're meant to be human, but are made up of a collection of filled circles that move very smoothly, giving the impression of a well animated character. They don't just stand there, but run, jump and duck all over the place.

Even more impressive than the straight forward shooting scenes are the sniper sections. Here, you'll have a relatively far-away position, with a view over a large area. As you might imagine, you can zoom in freely using your sniper scope to take out enemies. Here the vector environments really come into their own, stealing that spotlight of dynamism off the ball-based baddies. The sniper mechanic works so well that you stop missing the ability to move around freely and really begin to feel the effect of that 3rd dimension in action.

As if that weren't enough diversity, there are also several puzzle-tinged maze sections set in well realised environments including a club and the seabed below an enemy installation. Here you do get to control your movements, although you move in steps rather than fluidly. However, there are seamless animations representing the movement, making the whole thing appear very smooth.

These three main gameplay types are skilfully woven into each other, and into the game's narrative, giving Urban Attack a cinematic vibe that's bolstered massively by the drama inherent in most of the game's frequent cut-scenes.

Although actually fairly meaty in length considering the amount of work that has obviously gone into each section this game, you're still left tinged with disappointment at the end, although this is largely because of how compelling the game is rather than because Urban Attack hits a bum note in its coda. The game offers three difficulty levels, but the story-driven, linear nature of the game means you won't be left instantly wanting to start over again, but you'll doubtless return for a second bash after a while, if only to relive the initial positive experience of playing.


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