The march of progress for mobile gaming has moved at such a pace that it's easy to take games like Bounty Arms for granted.
We almost forget that not so long ago phones were capable of playing nothing more complicated than Snake, and here we are with a third-person platform-shooter boasting almost console-quality graphics.
Yet if at times Bounty Arms gives you cause to stop and marvel at just how far we've come in such a short space of time, it's also sobering proof that visuals aren't everything.Tired guns
Through its ten missions you control one of three bounty hunters: Drake Mass is a shotgun-wielding space marine; Flux Helix is a floating robot with laser eyes; and Goober is a chunky alien with a face like a ninja turtle in welding goggles.
Whichever you choose, the action that follows plays out very similarly. You enter a level and collect as many coins as you can while killing the robotic enemies that sporadically appear.
It all looks very smooth and slick, with detailed, well-animated characters, and it remains responsive even when there's a lot going on, with projectiles flying and confetti exploding from every defeated enemy.The forgettable fire
But all those pretty bangs and flashes can't mask the fact that Bounty Arms offers little beyond hollow spectacle. You run, you leap, you fire, and you repeat until boredom sets in - which, unfortunately, is pretty quickly.
Attempts to add variety fall flat. Each character has a power weapon, which can be triggered by swiping next to the regular 'fire' button. Yet you'll rarely find the need to use it, and the limited ammo runs out very quickly.
In theory it's useful for chaining kills, which offers you bonus points, but enemies tend to crowd you so quickly that you're forced to resort to repeated melee attacks.
Besides, airborne opponents are so tricky to target effectively - partly thanks to the imperfect controls - that your chain often ends as you bounce around impotently, blasting repeatedly until one of your shots finally lands.
Elsewhere, the money you pick up can be spent on buying and nurturing a selection of pets, of which you can select between three to call on in a pinch.
These offer temporary buffs, replenishing health or turning enemies into gold statues that can be whacked for money, but their presence is fleeting and the time it takes to summon them can be enough to get you killed.
You can also spend money opening chests and doors on each level - a bizarre idea that does nothing but interrupt the flow of the action.
Unless you waltz past half the coins you'll always have more than enough to spend, and with many holding extra powers, health, and even the badges you need to earn the higher ranks, there's never any reason not to open them.Reduced, reused, recycled
And while the levels are technically solid, they're also woefully generic. In a ten chapter game, there's really no excuse for reserving three of them for a factory - especially when these stages all merge into one as it is.
They also end incredibly abruptly, dumping you out of the level and into the post-mission results screen without any kind of warning.
It all adds up to what feels like a pound-shop Ratchet and Clank - a game that approaches the technical competence of Insomniac's series but possesses less than a tenth of its design quality, charm, and fun.