App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
I can't help but be a little leery of AR (Augmented Reality) games. It's just so easy for them to rely on camera gimmicks rather than using them to create an interesting experience. Fortunately in D:COM - MISSION ALPHA's case, the AR elements are separate from the actual gameplay so there's no need to worry about that kind of stuff.
D:COM - MISSION ALPHA is essentially a simple arcade-style player-versus-player duel with giant flying robots and AR elements. Players can use their phone's camera, coupled with their location information, to search their immediate area for handy items or other combatants. And, of course, they can also drop their mech into their photos for a good laugh or two. Combat has players firing volleys of missiles at each other while trying to shoot their opponent's down with laser countermeasures, so there's a lot of swiping the screen to trace missile paths and tapping on icons to shoot down incoming projectiles. Cash earned from scouring the area and defeating other players can then be used to purchase new mech models or upgrade the current selection, as well as acquire new paint jobs and buy new weapons.
Despite the simplicity of the combat it’s still pretty intense. By tracing out complex and winding paths for the missiles to follow it's possible to trip opponents up (or get tripped up) and land quite a few hits. There are also a fair number of missiles to choose from, each with their own effects such as needing to be tapped multiple times before being destroyed. The catch is that all missile supplies are finite, so if they're all used up they're all used up. Although there's always the option of scrounging for more.
My only real gripe with D:COM - MISSION ALPHA is the AR stuff, which isn't all that essential in the first place. Still, the horizon not matching up quite right while scavenging or searching for opponents is a little distracting. And while the camera feature is obviously kitschy I still find it disappointing that I can't rotate the mech on its Z-axis. So I couldn't, say, take a photo of a tiny robot playing with my cat on the floor from a higher perspective or make it look like I was staring up at a giant that dwarfed my apartment building. If nothing else it severely limits my options for taking goofy pictures.
Since the AR features aren't really essential elements to D:COM - MISSION ALPHA's gameplay it's not really a big deal that they feel a little off. The rest of the game, however, is pretty fun in a simple arcade-y sort of way. It's definitely not going to win over anybody looking for a deep experience but it's a perfectly reasonable time waster.