Developer: GameWell
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

It’s not often that I come across an iOS game that’s this graphically violent. In fact, I’m not sure I ever have. At least not to the degree of blasting off limbs or making dozens, if not hundreds, of heads pop like ripe melons. HeadshotsAlley is a nasty, bloody, unforgiving game. That’s both a disclaimer and a recommendation.

Based on the wordless arcade game-like intro I’m assuming the “hero” in HeadshotsAlley lives in a rough part of town. What with the shotgun ownership and willingness to roam the streets looking for some twelve-gauge vigilante justice. When a young woman is taken hostage by a masked thug he’s quick to pick up his boomstick and get to work. Work that in this case consists of walking steadily down an ever-changing alleyway while blasting rifle-toting badguys in their soft bits. Dragging a finger across the screen creates a dotted line intended to aid with aiming, and releasing the screen fires. A hit is a hit regardless and will down any of the meatbags in a single hit, but bonus points are earned by hitting them (where else?) in the noggin. Things can get pretty frantic fairly quickly but it’s also possible to take multiple baddies out with one shot if it’s lined up properly which makes handling large groups a bit more manageable.

Aside from all the blood and guts, HeadshotsAlley sports some nice retro visuals and sounds. It’s almost got the look of an 80s or 90s arcade beat-em-up, actually. It also utilizes a simple yet surprisingly elegant control scheme that’s about as easy to learn as it is accurate, possible user error notwithstanding. The difficulty also ramps up rather nicely with just a touch of the “die, get a little farther, die, get a little farther, die, rinse, repeat” design style.

Some of this old school feels a bit unbalanced, however. Trucks, for example, have a tendency to roll onto the screen just fast enough to make hitting a bed full of three gunmen incredibly difficult. Which results in getting hit, naturally. Another major hurdle is the appearance of fleeing innocent ladies who always seem to be in the perfect spot (in a bad way) most of the time. I can certainly appreciate the less forgiving approach to difficulty but I feel like these spikes could stand to be dialed down a little bit. Also there’s all the blood and guts which I know aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.

HeadshotsAlley is not a “for all ages” kind of game. The subject matter, visuals, and overall difficulty might be too much for some to handle. Anyone who isn’t bothered by these three elements, however, should have a grand old time blasting face and chasing that high score.


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