148Apps Network Post
Developer: Glu Mobile
Price: Free
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4G, iPad 1G

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Glu Mobile have certainly been trying to make freemium games mean something more than farming or pet raising – in fact, they’ve made them quite violent, what with the dual-stick shooter Gun Bros. and now Contract Killer, a first-person shooter where you play as a stationary sniper. The game is set up where you’re taking missions from clients on a city map – these missions usually involve taking out a target, and sometimes their minions as well. You go into battle with 2 weapons, usually a rifle of some sort, and then some other weapon of your choice, although for a lot of missions, you’ll need to bring a tranquilizer rifle as you need to subdue some targets, not kill them. You can pop in and out of into cover to reload and avoid fire.. The game’s limiting element and part of its freemium hook is that you have a limited supply of energy, and you expend energy on each mission you can take, which you can refill by either waiting for your energy to charge back up, or buying items that will refill your energy.

Contract Killer may be a freemium game, and yes it is designed to make money, but it is a game first and foremost. The mission setups are slightly ingenious in that they show you the portrait of the person you’re trying to kill, and if you kill them quickly, then you get an experience bonus, making the beginning of each level a frantic hunt for your target, and if you know what they look like, it’s to your advantage. The RPG elements are fun, but not really overwhelming – it’s mainly just money and experience that give you moderate advantages – it’s still all about skill.

The problem with Contract Killer is that it can seem repetitive and players will need to have patience. Missions tend to not vary much from the format of “kill/subdue boss and then take out his sycophants, if necessary.” Plus, the energy aspect kind of makes it kind of hard to get addicted to the game, as by the time you may get interested in a session, you’ll likely be out of energy – and energy doesn’t come cheap to replenish, so unless you’re diligent about when your energy is replenished, then it can be hard to keep up with when you can play again. I’d usually wind up playing once or twice a day, tops, when I remembered to play, because the game essentially makes you stop playing, or purchase more energy. Also, while the app is universal, there’s no save game synchronization between platforms yet. This is something that was implemented in Gun Bros., and I’m sad that it’s not in place here.

Do you need to spend money on Contract Killer? It’s really only necessary if you are tremendously impatient. There are some weapons only available through buying credits, but plenty of opportunities for getting free credits are available by downloading and running apps both free and paid – and money was never really at a premium, even with having to buy ammo regularly. Of course, you will have to spend money for some of the really expensive weapons, presumably – I don’t think there are enough app offers to get 400 credits for “The Zerstorer” which boasts stats beating every single weapon in the game. Mind you, buying that with credits from in-app purchases would cost you over $20, and you can’t trade in-game currency for credits, only the other way around. Energy can only be purchased through credits, and it’s not the kind of thing where it ever felt worth it to me to trade credits I earned through app downloads for the energy refill items, so it’s really only worth it if you’re impatient.

The amount of time and money (if any) you’ll sink into Contract Killer depends on your impatience level – if you get into the game, which is pretty fun. I found myself relatively interested in coming back to it, even outside of any kind of review obligation. You can play the game without paying, but it’s harder to get hooked into it without paying. Such is the conundrum that Contract Killer presents – you’ll have your fun with it, but not too much until you pay.

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