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iPhone  header logo

24: Special Ops (iPhone)

For: iPhone

The clock doesn't stop

Product: 24: Special Ops (iPhone) | Publisher: Digital Chocolate | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1 | Version: US | App version: 1.0.8
24: Special Ops (iPhone) iPhone, thumbnail 1
Like Bill Murray in the brilliant Groundhog Day, the fight against terrorism plays out like déjà vu. The details may differ from day-to-day, but the struggle against unjustified acts of violence remains identical. It's largely the same with action games, yet 24: Special Ops manages to break from the cookie-cutter to deliver something different.

Counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer once again finds himself subverting a plot to kill innocent civilians. This time, three dirty bombs have been set in the greater Los Angeles area and it's up to Bauer to find and defuse them. Through the course of a surprisingly lengthy story mode, you guide Bauer in a series of third-person action stages that have you shooting up enemies, picking locks, hacking computers, and speeding down the congested highways of California.

Most of the levels have you traipsing across isometric stages battling terrorists. Touching the corners of the screen enable you to move Bauer, whereas tapping the centre fires his pistol. It's a practical control scheme because of the angle orientation of the map; a directional pad wouldn't make sense, ensuring the situation of diagonal arrows in the corners as a workable alternative.

Cover plays a critical role in combat. Bauer automatically crouches behind an object when approached, shielding him from enemy attacks. This becomes crucial for survival in later stages when you face scores of terrorists who can riddle Bauer with bullets. The default pistol works admirably, although you can also equip grenades and an assault rifle for added firepower. Even stealthy melee kills are an option should you brave getting close enough to an enemy.

The game's greatest asset is its own variety. From one stage to the next, you're given something new to tackle and this lends a freshness to the experience. After a high speed chase requiring taps of the screen's edges to steer, you may have to defuse a bomb or decipher an email via mini-games.

Not all of the activities are a success, but on the whole they keep the action from growing stale. The action stages are surprisingly good, demanding use of cover and rewarding you with honours for collecting hidden laptops, keen combat moves, and the like. It's the mini-games that occasionally fall short, such as a email decryption game that has you flicking through letters of the alphabet to decipher the text in a message. Others are much better: tailing a terrorist while weaving through traffic on the freeway is both challenging and fun, as are tense efforts to defuse bombs by connecting battery circuits.

24: Special Ops surprises with its adaptation of the original mobile release in terms of gameplay, but it falters on the visual front. This clearly has been brought over from inferior hardware, the blocky pixels a dead giveaway of the game's port. It's a negative point, although one countered by the terrific job done to ensure that the gameplay feels right on Apple's device. While it would have been great to see more visual enhancement, it's the gameplay that really counts and on that front 24: Special Ops accomplishes the mission.
24: Special Ops (iPhone)
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 10 April 2009
24: Special Ops succeeds well enough with enjoyable action that could use a graphical tune up and more exciting mini-games
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