The Virtua Cop franchise, I remember playing these games fondly in the dingy arcade on the first floor of Park Plaza Mall here in Little Rock and at home on my Sega Saturn. I remember playing Virtua Cop 1 a lot when it first hit Aladdin’s Castle in University Mall (about two blocks from Park Plaza Mall) and when I found out that Sega was releasing it on Saturn (with guns to boot) I knew I had to get that console. Luckily, by the time I was able to afford the Saturn, Electronics Boutique (now Gamestop) was offering a bundle deal (much better than what they are offering on the Nintendo Switch, let me tell you that right now). If you bought the Saturn they would give you your choice of six titles, out of a total of eight. I of course partook of this deal and brought home Virtua Cop, the guns, and five other games I will detail in future articles (they don’t matter for this review). Man, those were the days. I would stay up late playing with my dad (who had arthritis bad), my cousin, girlfriend at the time, or just by myself going all John Woo on the game. Now, with Grand Shooter, I am getting those crazy cool feelings again and that is a good thing.
The background story for Grand Shooter is about as thick as the game play is. Just know this, apparently you are playing someone that is ex-military and going after a “loved one” (lover, brother, something else?). Yep, that is about as complicated as one of those Lifetime Movie Network originals that they push every month or so.
The story is not why you play a game like Grand Shooter, or Virtua Cop for that matter. For proof, off the top of your head, what was the backstory for either Virtua Cop game? Yeah, not so easy because it doesn’t matter in these games. The only thing that matters is that the environments are challenging and interesting and the enemies are not annoying. Reloading must be quick, or you are dead. That is where Grand Shooter has an edge over on the classics in this genre. I will tell you in two words.
Yep, a design choice that was made prominent thanks to the Matrix movies is the key to intensifying the action in Grand Shooter. At key moments, time will slow down just a bit to let sink in what has just happened. This could be a great shot by you, could be a rush of enemies, etc. It seems to be controlled by the environment and not set at certain points as I have experienced it at various times while playing. A great touch that brings Grand Shooter above similar titles on mobile devices and shows that new games can build on the classics.
When we played Virtua Cop or Namco’s Point Blank on PSOne, we had to use light guns and make sure they were properly calibrated to the television we were using (or in the case of Namco’s game, we had to literally plug hardware into the TV for better precision). This is something where these games have a leg up when playing on a mobile screen using touch controls (imagine that, a classic genre that works BETTER on mobile).
While playing you are alerted that an enemy is in range with a shooting reticle that quickly rotates and changes color as the imminent danger gets closer to taking action against you. This is where the reloading comes in handy. Do you take a chance on reloading when using the revolver with three available bullets available as you face down one assailant in a room or do you go ahead and take your chances hoping for a better opportunity to drop some rounds into your gun? This is one of the choices that you are going to have to make quickly as you play Grand Shooter.
The levels are varied and somewhat connected, giving the overall experience a cohesive feel. This is great as it helps keep you immersed in the action as you play. There are panning and zooming effects, at predetermined points, that add just a little more of that cinematic feel that builds off the whole bullet time effect. The overall design of Grand Shooter just strikes me as more than what we see in most mobile games.
Just like in Virtua Cop there are civilians mixed in with the enemies and you must make split decisions as to when to shoot or not. I swear, some of these civilians are probably with the bad guys because they are just way to conveniently in the wrong place to not be a part of the enemy forces. It is like they want to be shot or something.
Okay, now for the “tough” part of my job. Discussing the bad points.
There are more than a few bad points with Grand Shooter, though none are “OMG, I cannot play this” level, there are a few doozies to watch out for.
First, there are a few scenes that involve kids in positions that we don’t see, or hear about, on the news when they cover war situations. This may be unsettling for some players so just be prepared for some tough situations to rear their ugly heads. Think of it this way, there is a reason there are no children zombies in the Resident Evil franchise – that is a design choice. Grand Shooter goes a little farther than that but not “full Monty” with it. Almost though. Almost.
Next up, there are In App Purchases to watch for. If you are a grinding gamer, then you will probably not be bothered with the IAP here. Binge playing Grand Shooter is going to be tough though as there are only so many coins available to you. Yep, you pay one coin to play each level – no bonus to speak of if you beat the level (such as getting your coin back). You earn cash or gems as you complete levels, which is used to buy weapons and power ups. You can also buy gems with cash or occasionally catch a few free gems by watching a video advertisement.
Finally, you are going to get frustrated as you play Grand Shooter. Some levels are simply impossible to get a three-star rating on without certain weapons. This is just how mobile games are setup today – this could be viewed as the paywall. The point where you either drop some serious time and grind or you spend real cash to buy the necessary upgrades. This point is deep into the game, if you discount the whole coin to play situation.
Come on, if you remember playing Virtua Cop or Point Blank or any of the many other gun game you know you are wanting to at least try Grand Shooter out. This style of shooter is just not around as much as gamers should demand it is and that is a shame as the genre works amazingly well on mobile devices.
Grand Shooter by Sanca Ventures
Platform: Android (Ascend XT used for review)
Genre: Light gun style shooter, tap to shoot enemies
In App Purchases: Yes, non-intrusive
Rated: T for Teen
Available now on Google Play