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Developer: Lab Rats Studio
Price: $5.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★½☆☆

M.U.S.E. is the newest 3rd person cover shooter to hit iOS. Players control an operative of the organization M.U.S.E. who is out to destroy the evil Psychosis, who killed his family, or something. The story is mostly irrelevant, and disappointing because it has nothing to do with the band Muse, which would make for an interesting plot for a game, or a fantastic tie-in to their next album.

The gameplay is fairly standard fare for the genre with some combo elements built-in. Players shoot to kill enemies with a pistol, secondary weapon with limited ammo but greater power such as an assault rifle, and grenades. Players have an adrenaline meter, which when charged up, helps increase the combo multiplier and gives enemies and destructible objects a noticeable outline. Players can earn or purchase credits which go toward upgrades of either the protagonist or of his weapons. The combo-based combat gives it a different feel from a game like Shadowgun, and emphasizes efficiency. THe variety of destructible objects helps to bring variety to combat, as well.

The combat is just otherwise kind of uninspiring beyond that. It’s never really all that fun or interesting, even compared to a game like Shadowgun which was in itself uninspiring at times due to its closeness to Gears of War. It just never feels fun to play, and is typically more frustrating than anything. The controls hurt this as well – the auto-aim goes from being necessary to frustrating in split-seconds. Spending money on upgrades feels necessary from the outset, which is not a good look for a game that’s $5.99. As well, the visuals are just not all that impressive, even on the iPad 2, but that may just be me being spoiled by Unreal games like Infinity Blade 2 and Epoch.

I understand the desire to make games that try to emulate console-style gameplay on iOS, but they usually wind up falling flat because they’re not particularly a good fit for the platform. It’s just that M.U.S.E. feels flat even for iOS, like if there’s a really good game here, it’s still ways off from being fully realized. There are other, better, 3rd party shooters to check out before this one.

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