One of the first free-plus-pay games on the App Store, Eliminate does away with pricing, but that doesn't preclude cut rate gameplay.
Still, premium multiplayer action marks this ambitious game as being something other than your average first-person shooter.
Yet for every innovative feature loaded up in Eliminate - effortless network play, deep customisation, and a cheeky attitude - there's a flaw that locks it down, leaving it cents short of its full potential.
To get into the swing of the game, you're thrown into the action as an employee of Arsenal MegaCorp, who's tasked with participating in an experimental weapons program.
In short, the company asks you to shoot at your corporate comrades in four player free-for-all matches as a way of testing the efficacy of its cutting-edge weaponry.
While offline bot play is offered, the main attraction is network multiplayer.
Eliminate caters for 3G and wi-fi play, both of which function superbly. Credits are awarded for kills, which are used to level up, purchase new weapons, and enhance your avatar's combat attributes. They're only deposited into your virtual account, however, when you possess energy in your combat suit.
Each match saps some of your energy and when you have none left, you're unable to earn credits. You can continue playing, but with no energy, you won't receive any credits.
It takes four hours for your energy to recharge; alternately, in-app energy pack purchases of between 99c and up to $30 allow you to bypass this annoyance and recharge your suit.
Putting aside any discussion of cost, the rate at which energy recharges is a source of frustration. Requiring a waiting period isn't the problem, it's that you're only granted a partial recharge. Full replenishment at the end of every waiting period would be preferred. This shouldn't discourage energy pack purchases because you still would need to wait four hours for a recharge.
The reason the recharge wait is so annoying has everything to do with the game's fantastic customisation system. It's so compelling that you can't help but want to buy energy packs to earn credits just to be able to tweak your character and buy new stuff.
Only one complaint can be lodged against the game with regard to personalisation. Cosmetic armour skins have to be purchased with credits. It would be much better to allow simple colour changes and decals to be free of charge and exact a fee in credits for substantive upgrades.
Indeed, in many ways, customising your character is more fulfilling than combat itself.
A number of issues prevent matches from playing out ideally, including awkward controls, weapon imbalances, and questionable matchmaking. These are what ultimately cause Eliminate the most trouble, independent of the controversy surrounding its pricing structure.
Tapping the bottom of the screen at the centre supposedly triggers a jump, yet it frequently results in your weapon being fired and the camera moving to the left. Fortunately, jumping isn't a big part of the game, so it's not a massive problem.
Clumsy strafing is perhaps more of an issue, but you can mitigate some of this frustration by choosing the automatic fire option when your crosshairs are positioned over an enemy. Similar controls foibles also make the jet pack power-up a hassle and it should just be removed from the game.
In addition, problems with weapon balancing complicate combat. Take the plasma cannon, for example, which is overpowered and allows easier kills than the other weapons given the confined maps. Then there's the gravity hook that's not only cumbersome to control, but essentially obsolete in close-quarters matches.
Curious matchmaking results in more frustration than anything else.
Matches can pull in players of markedly different skill levels, instead of setting up even games. It's common to see three players at a lower level get slaughtered by a fourth at a significantly higher level. The game accounts for these situations by reducing the credits earned by the higher ranking player. You can gain credits for one kill, but it shouldn't come to that.
The concept of matchmaking presumes coordination of games with players within a couple levels of each other.
Some of these flaws like matchmaking will undoubtedly be fixed with server-side patches and as such, Eliminate is bound to improve over time. Yet, the structure of the game requires re-examination in order to address annoyances with its energy pack system, a couple lame power-ups, and weapons functionality.
Still, eliminate these issues and this ambitious shooter can take full aim at fun.