Version Reviewed: 1.1
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The year is 2011. Terrorists with unknown motives are threatening nuclear war by wreaking havoc in India and Pakistan. These two nuclear powers both blame each other for the attacks, and tensions are high. The U.S. wants to prevent nuclear war at all costs, and the government’s only hope is you, an elite aerial helicopter sniper.
The campaign mode of AC-130 has you completing ten missions, each involving taking out enemy infantry and vehicles from a fixed vantage point. You have three different weapon systems at your disposal, each varying in range and explosion radius. You’ll have to choose your weapon judiciously according to the mission. In some missions, for example, with large quantities of friendly units, you’ll have to use your 25 mm Gatling Gun to avoid taking out your allies. Early missions will have you destroying solely stationary units, but in latter missions, you will have to target moving enemies. This core gameplay is fun, and the explosions that send terrorists to their graves are very satisfying. However, AC-130 can become very tedious because missions are completed by destroying a pre-determined number of enemies. Because of this, you will often find yourself panning the field in vain searching for those tiny last two enemies. In addition, some missions are very repetitive, and after destroying a band of enemies, you have to wait for a while for a band of the exact same size to appear in the exact same place. The gameplay is solely offensive, so you cannot be damaged by the enemy. The only ways to lose are to either run down the generous timer to zero or to accidently destroy too many friendly units.
The controls for AC-130 Spectre are simple and intuitive, but some options are lacking. The main view panning is accelerometer and/or touch based. Both accelerometer and touch controls are enabled at once, so you can use both at the same time. I found it most effective to do most of my moving with the accelerometer, and then to make minute adjustments with the touch-anywhere and drag controls. In addition, it is easy to use solely the accelerometer to control the view. While there is an option to calibrate the tilt controls, there is no option to adjust sensitivity, and I felt the controls were not sensitive enough. However, because there is no option to turn off accelerometer use, it is nearly impossible to use only touch controls, as you would have to keep your iDevice completely flat and motionless. Once you have the enemy in your sights, you activate your weapon by touching a small button in the bottom left corner of the screen, and swapping weapons is accomplished by touching the bottom right corner.
The “night-vision” graphics add to the military theme. The graphics may not be overly complex, but the vehicles and environments were illustrated in an effective night-vision style. I did have a small issue with the enemy infantry illustrations. First, the terrorists are bright white, in stark contrast to the rest of the game. Second, when enemies are injured, they lay on the ground in a position very similar to that of dead infantry, making it difficult to tell whether you have killed an enemy. Sound effects are nicely done, and the radio instructions are delivered via a realistic, militaristic voice. There is no in game music, but this actually adds to the intense, military vibe.
Overall, fans of sniper games will appreciate AC-130 Spectre, but with only ten missions and a high-score mode, the game is short lived. Sniping enemies is fun, but searching for that last enemy to clear a level may just push your patience to the limit.
Tagged with: $2.99, AC-130 Spectre, helicopter, sniper, Triniti Game