Tuesday, September 30, 2008

iPhone Series: Billy Frontier

Billy Frontier is a western, alien shooter from Pangea Software that features a variety of modes and a high score board, and currently, is only going for $.99, so if you like to shoot stuff, you will want to jump on this right now.

The first thing you will want to do is go into the settings and turn off the offset reticule, at least, I did. To preface, this is a first-person shooter-type experience, and this feature shoots about a centimeter above where you click on-screen, which can be useful in theory so you don’t cover up the screen where you are shooting so you can see. However, in practice, this doesn’t work out too well as you are never sure exactly where you will be shooting, and this is important as you have limited ammo.

The game features 8 levels in total; 2 real levels, 2 stampedes, 2 duels, and 2 target practices; all of which come together to form the game, and once you complete all of the stages, you get a score which, if good enough, will go on the high-score board. And don’t worry about having to do all of these at once, because there is an easy to use save system, so if you only have a few minutes, you can do a duel or stampede and play the rest later. Now, let me explain each mode.

I’ll start with the target practice, which is a bit more interesting than a carnival-type game. Here, you are looking up at the sky and all kinds of items are thrown up at you in which you must shoot. These items range from coins and TNT boxes, to aliens and power-up items which can extend your play time. You continue playing this game until you either run out of time or ammunition. To make things more difficult, the camera also moves around, so you have to act fast and be accurate to get a high score.
Another type you can play is the duel, which is….interesting. There isn’t much action in this mode, nor is there a real urgency that you would think would come with an old-school, western duel. Instead, you are greeted with a cut-scene-like experience where you simply watch two guys prepare for the duel. During this time, you must successfully complete 16 patterns. These patterns consist of a sequence of up to eight symbols, although there are only two symbols to choose from; a triangle and a circle. So, this sequence appears on-screen and you merely press the triangle and circle buttons to the pattern that is displayed. You don’t have to memorize it or anything, but simply input what you see. If you mess up, a new pattern appears and you must do 16 of them before the video ends, or you will die. It is pretty simple and as long as you start right when the first pattern appears, you shouldn’t have much trouble being successful.
The stampede is a nice change of pace, as it has you running from a bunch of bulls. This mode has the player running towards the screen, so you can’t really see what is in front of you, but this is fine. You run automatically and move side-to-side via the accelerometers. During your run, a variety of obstacles will get in your way, so make sure to keep moving and be prepared to jump by tapping the screen. Aside from obstacles, there are also coins and chili peppers scattered about, with the peppers acting as speed boosts. You must simply reach the finish line in order to win, but if you get hit by the bulls, you lose, so be careful.
The last mode is where the meat of the game is, as I like to think of it, as it contains the shooting and enemies and all of that goodness, so allow me to talk about it in some depth.

To start, you have a six-shooter at your disposal, which really isn’t important aside from the ammo aspect, as reloading is instant. Your ammo is counted in "clips" or set of 6 bullets, and if you run out, you lose, so you must be careful, however, ammo is plentiful and you can horde around 20 clips at any time, but you must make an effort to get these clips from destroying barrels and boxes, which can be time consuming so I would have liked it much more if ammo wasn’t an issue.
The game isn’t exactly a first-person shooter though, but merely has that view. The game itself is on rails, and you automatically move from place to place. Once at an area, you must kill all enemies in that area before you can proceed. You can scroll and turn around on a horizontal axis, but that is all the movement you are allowed.

So, this mode is relatively simple, with most enemies just standing around or hiding behind boxes, coming out at intervals to take a shot or two at you, but if you have enough ammo, you can simply destroy the cover they have and then easily take them out; they won’t seek other cover or anything. Some enemies may take a minute to spot though, as they remain hidden or are far in the distance or blend in with the environment so you may not notice them at first. You must watch your health too, because if you die, you have to start all over, naturally, but each of these two levels aren’t terribly long, taking you 10 minutes maximum to complete. Like ammo, health and other power-ups are contained inside boxes and barrels, so shoot at them a few times to break ‘em open and collect the goodies. At the end of each level, you have to face a boss, but seeing as how you can’t move, there isn’t a real strategy to beating either boss; just shoot it a bunch of times until its health meter is depleted.

Again, once you complete all of these levels, you get a final high score, mostly based on how many coins you collected throughout. Also important to note is that you can choose whichever stage you want to play at any given time, so if you are in the mood for target practice first, go for it, although you can only play each stage once, to make the high-score work, but if you only want to play the target practice for instance, you can merely exit your current game after playing the two stages and then you can play them again and again.

Overall, Billy Frontier is a decent game you can play to pass the time and features a variety of modes so you don’t get too bored with a single type. Each mode is very different from each other, which is good, although each has a flaw or two and you may not enjoy all of them that much so it’s a mixed bag. However, if you are at all intrigued by one of the modes, then you should pick it up now, because for a limited time the game has gone down from its original $3.99 to only $.99, so you really can’t lose.

Overall Score - 7/10

You can buy Billy Frontier on iTunes.

Posted in collaboration with GamersPlatform.

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