Friday, July 6, 2012

Bio Crisis [Sphinx Entertainment] - $2.99

Sphinx Entertainment has released some awesome games in the past; Carrot War, VR Mission, Mole Dash, League of Extraordinary Birds, and more. Their newest title, however, is easily their best yet. Bio Crisis, a title that’s won numerous Indie Game Design Awards, has been polished up and released for the iOS, and takes it’s place next to the small, but growing list, of cover based shooters. 
Bio Crisis throws you into the roll of Night Hawk, a marine who’s guided by Claire, the operator of the Missions, who is pretty much your tutorial master. It’s 2035, and Earth’s resources are depleted. Thankfully, a meteor that wound up landing somewhere near the jungle that use to be the South Pole has been found. It’s said to contain a mysterious crystal which could be a source of great power. Your mission is to find Bull Dog, another operative who hasn’t been able to be reached since finding Crystal Samples. 

Like other cover-based shooters, you’re outfitted with various weapons, and will need to fight your way through loads of enemies in order to complete your objective. But with Bio Crisis being a top-down type shooter, it allows for some great strategic additions. This is amplified by the great level design, and positioning of barriers which you’re able to take cover behind.
All of this would be pretty much meaningless if it weren’t for the great control system. You’re given a virtual joystick, roll, fire and reload buttons. Once you get close to a barrier, Night Hawk automatically takes cover behind it, blocking all of the projectiles coming your way, and in order to make it through the game without running out of ammo, you’ll need to figure out what weapon best serves the situation. You’re outfitted with an auto riffle, shotgun, missile launcher, grenades, and a laser gun, and switching between all of them throughout each level is basically mandatory. Your shotgun is great for taking out enemies close-by, while your riffle is better for enemies further away. If you’ve got enemies back to back, the laser is able to shoot through them, hitting all of them at once, and the missile launcher and grenades take care of bigger enemies or groups of enemies. You’re also equipped with a knife, which you’ll be able to use when you’re close to an enemy. You automatically use it by pressing the ‘fire’ button, no matter what weapon is equipped. 

There are 24 Missions, and every 6th Mission you’ll come across a boss battle. Here, you’ll need to figure out how to use the environment and your heavy weapons to best serve you. The first boss battle is fairly easy, requiring you to roll out of the way when the boss comes charging at you, and then shoot missiles and throw grenades at him once he hit’s the wall and is dazed. However, the second boss has some great armor, and in order to take him out you’ll need to figure out where to stand in order to make him damage himself. 
There are goals which you’ll need to complete in order to unlock the other gameplay modes; Brutal, Insane and Hell. To unlock Brutal Mode, you need to kill 100 enemies with grenades, for Insane, you need to kill 999 enemies, and for Hell Mode, you’ll need to kill 500 enemies with your knife. 

There is a shop, with IAPs included in the game. In the shop, you can upgrade your weapons, as well as purchase ammo if you happen to run out. The IAP is for coins. You also earn these coins by playing through the game. With each enemy you kill, you’re given coins, and are given lump sums after completing boss stages. While progressing through the game, you’ll also come across ammo containers which help out with the ammo. You will run out of ammunition if you blast away emptying clip after clip into an enemy after their dead, or just decide to only use one gun the entire time you’re playing. But the game is centered around strategically figuring out what weapon best suit’s the situation, and carefully planning out your attacks. It isn’t a blast everything to smithereens while not keeping an eye on your ammo type of game. Your health is also pretty limited, but does regenerate. 
You can automatically refill your health for 300 coins if you don’t want to wait, but again, you will be dying and loosing a lot of health if you just decide to run into a group of enemies and start blasting away. Players that don’t use some strategy and don’t use each weapon as it’s meant to be used will probably wind up feeling like they’re being pushed towards buying coins through the in-app-purchases. However, you can also go back and replay missions that you’ve already beat if you wound up loosing all of your ammo by being careless. You’ll earn the same amount of coins as you did the first time you played through the level, so this can help out a lot. 

With Bio Crisis priced at $2.99, and being Universal, it’s a great buy for gamers looking for another cover-based shooter, or a shooter that requires thought rather than mindless killing. Sphinx Entertainment has definitely raised their own bar, as well as created a fantastic cover-based shooter that can hold it’s own within the genre. The game could use GameCenter support, with achievements, and possibly leader boards, but with the amount of content, there’s already quite a bit that’ll keep you coming back to the game, even after you beat the Campaign Mode. Bio Crisis is highly recommended for fans of the genre, especially if you’re sick of the mindless shooters found throughout the AppStore. 


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