Review: 9mm for iPhone and iPad – Move over Max Payne, John “Loose” Kanon has you beat

9mm

Ever since Lethal Weapon released in the 90s, vigilante cops who go against the rules have been quite popular. In the realm of video games, the most well-known vigilante cop has got to be Max Payne. Gameloft’s newest title, 9mm, takes much of its inspiration from games like Max Payne with Kanon’s no BS attitude and some of the game’s gameplay mechanics. Would a Max Payne-like game work for the iOS platform? Find out by reading our review.

9mm starts off with players assuming the role of John “Loose” Kanon who is a cop who doesn’t play by the rules, as most video game cops don’t, except for Detective Cole Phelps from L.A. Noire, but that’s besides the point. Kanon starts off the game doing what he does best: busting some drug dealer heads. Kanon and the rest of his squad find millions in cash in a drug dealers basement, which turns them into targets by the gang the drug dealers belonged to. Kanon needs to take down the entire gang and its leader or else he and his entire team will be taken out.

At its core, 9mm is a third-person shooter. Controls for the game are typical of shooters: analog on the left side of the screen moves your character, the rest of the screen can be used to direct the camera and aim when in combat. 9mm allows you to aim with the iPhone 4′s gyroscope, but I’ve never gotten the hang of that, so I went the traditional route. One of the big selling points to the game’s shooting system is the Kanon having the ability of initiating “Bullet Time” in order to slow down time to take down a number of enemies. Initiating a diving bullet time action is as easy as touching the “Bullet Time” button and dragging it in a particular direction. Seeing as how gang members have swarmed me on a regular basis, the bullet time system is very much appreciated as I would have died a lot more without its inclusion.

Weapons in 9mm are what you’d expect out of a shooter: pistols, shotguns, SMGs, assault rifles, sniper rifles, and grenades. Kanon will only be able to carry one of each weapon type, which means he’ll be able to carry a total of 6 weapons at any time. When Kanon defeats an enemy, they’ll sometimes drop ammo or weapons. Kanon can ditch his current weapon for the new one of that weapon type.

You won’t be just shooting enemies in 9mm as there are a number of action sequences that will require you to tap on-screen icons, swipe sections of the screen, and even attempt to guess the dialog an informant is going to say when you’re interrogating them. These sequences add some much needed breaks from the constant running and gunning, especially the interrogation segments as they could provide some funny dialog.

9mm might be Gameloft’s best looking game to date, especially on the iPad 2. Facial animations look a lot more natural than previous Gameloft titles and the character animations during cut-scenes and action sequences look less “marionette”-ish and more natural. The lighting has also improved as outdoor levels are bright and atmospheric, while indoor levels offer different light sources depending on the location.

When it comes to a mobile game, its soundtrack is something I don’t particularly focus on since I honestly don’t expect much out of it. That’s not the case with 9mm as such hip hop heavyweights as Beanie Sigel, Freeway, and Jake One have been included not only in the game’s soundtrack, but you’ll bump into some of them within the game. Their music certainly helps in giving the game a ton more atmosphere and it also helps to bounce your head to some dope beats while playing a game.

9mm not only offers 12 levels of single player action, but it also comes with a multiplayer mode that can be played via local Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and online. There are only two multiplayer modes, free-for-all  and a team deathmatch mode called “Cops & Robbers.” Both modes allow you to level yourself up and earn money that can be used to purchase weapons and armor before a match. Since it wouldn’t be fair to allow everyone the ability for bullet time, the developers have turned the bullet time button into a diving button, which allows players to dive in any direction they like, just like Kanon would. The only problem I had with the multiplayer mode is when taking the game online. Before the game released, the action was smooth and without a hiccup. But now that the game has been released, the game has been suffering from a lot of lag which is making it barely unplayable at this point.

The Good
  • The graphics in 9mm are the best we've seen coming from Gameloft, especially when played on an iPad 2.
  • Bullet time is a great addition to the game as enemies can swarm Kanon to overwhelm him.
  • You don't see many mobile game stories as gritty as 9mm. Drug dealers, Mexican gangs, and a whole lot of cursing is expected in this game.
  • 9mm is a universal app, which means you won't have to purchase an "HD" version to play on your iPad. Finally!
The Bad
  • After you're done with the game's story, there isn't much in the multiplayer to keep players coming back for more.
  • The game's online mulitplayer is laggy after the game's release, making the online portion nearly unplayable.
  • A couple of technical hiccups, such as no dialog being spoken during some cutscenes, keep 9mm from receiving a flawless score.

Conclusion

Gameloft has done a fantastic job with 9mm, even though it does borrow a lot of its gameplay mechanics from Max Payne. Regardless of that, 9mm looks great, plays great, and its story will keep you entertained through all of the game's 12 levels.

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