24: Agent Down
| 24: Agent Down

As a brand, 24 was the ideal candidate for the sort of bog-standard action-adventure that's given movie and TV tie-in games a bad name on mobile and console alike.

So it's to I-play's credit that for its first 24 game, the publisher took a different approach, stringing together various mini-games, including wandering around shooting people, but also driving and puzzles. It stretched your brain rather than just your trigger thumb, scooping a prestigious BAFTA award in the process.

Now it's time for the second in the series, 24: Agent Down. It could just have been a rehash, but I-play has tinkered with the formula to good effect. Rather than just a collection of 24-themed mini-games, this is now built around the core exploration and shooting mode, with the puzzle bits coming in when, for example, you need to pick a lock or defuse a bomb.

The game takes place over – what else? – 24 hours, and revolves around the CTU headquarters being taken over by terrorists, who are holding hostages and getting up to all manner of bomb-related nefariousness.

As Jack Bauer, your job is to repeatedly infiltrate the building, dispatch the baddies, and rescue the hostages. All without ever stopping to recharge your phone or urinate. Amazing. Thankfully, you're not entirely alone, as you have backup and advice from your colleague while you work through the levels.

The game has a distinctive visual style, based on the sort of thermal imaging that's more commonly seen on police TV documentaries when criminals are legging it through people's back gardens. In 24: Agent Down, this means that while the graphics are fairly simplistic, they're suitably atmospheric.

As you sneak around the building, you'll spot terrorists strolling about, too. There's four ways to deal with them. Simplest is to shoot them with your dart gun, then drag their bodies to a darkened corner. Mostly, the latter bit's for fun, although it is true that if a terrorist happens upon the body of one of their mates, they get spooked, and the threat level rises. If it goes too high, it's curtains for Jack.

You can also off the terrorists by calling in a sniper shot from Jack's colleague Curtis, or get clever by planting a decoy explosion in one direction, then nipping past them when they go to investigate.

Finally, on some levels you can just sneak up behind the terrorists and slit their throats with your knife. Who needs fancy gadgetry anyway?

As we said, the mini-games come into play when you reach an obstacle or item that needs to be hacked into / defused. One mini-game has you stopping a cursor on a sort of roulette wheel three times, another has you puzzling out some micro-electronics switches to send current to a green terminal and not a red one, while another has you pressing numbers on your keypad as they flash up on screen.

They're all fairly simple, but tough enough to make the Training mode where you practise individual mini-games a useful inclusion.

Finally, there's hostages. Once released, these hapless patsies pootle along to the level's exit without a care in the world – and with no awareness of the terrorists who may be around the next corner. This brings in a neat element of Lemmings, with you having to dart ahead of the hostages to clear the way of any gun-toting bad guys.

24: Agent Down is a good game for sure, and one that's clearly a step on from last year's original. Our main criticism is the frustration factor, which reaches boiling point on certain levels where a seemingly minor mistake is enough to see you dead as a dodo (and restarting the level from scratch).

Progress is usually simply a case of learning the layout of the CTU building and the position of terrorists within it, but there were a couple of times when our phone almost left the building via the nearest window.

Nevertheless, if you like your action games with a touch more brains, 24: Agent Down is a good buy.

24: Agent Down

Suitably sneaky game that blends Bauer brains with brawn for an immersive adventure
Stuart Dredge
Stuart Dredge
Stuart is a freelance journalist and blogger who's been getting paid to write stuff since 1998. In that time, he's focused on topics ranging from Sega's Dreamcast console to robots. That's what you call versatility. (Or a short attention span.)