Here's a style of game we've not seen in a while. These kinds of online, semi-social titles were all the rage while the iPhone was still finding its feet, popularised by the likes of Mafia Wars, while online persistent worlds populated with thousands of gamers were still a half believed dream.
Smartphone MMOs are a lot more achievable these days, of course, but it's interesting to see a return to the old form in Days of Crime. And things have moved on a lot since Zynga's dominance, so you can expect a lot more than simply pitting your stats against another player's numbers.Quick on the draw
Combat in Days of Crime is built around one-on-one shoot-outs, whether against real players on the other side of the world or in-game characters. Each bout takes place in a static 3D environment and uses the phone's motion control for aiming.
It takes its 3D settings very seriously, so casually tilting left and right doesn't cut the combat mustard. The screen is your window into this criminal world, and you need to hold the handset upright and make significantly bigger, more physical movements than you'd typically expect.
Rotating the handset all the way around you is required, with a bit of vertical tilt to put the crosshairs squarely on your real-life online opponent.
This is done under considerable pressure, as the other gunslinger is dancing left and right, and taking pot shots at you the whole time. Run out of bullets and you lay the handset flat and tap the screen to load more into the gun before getting back to the shootout.
These unique and immersive controls sometimes feel a tad haphazard, whether because of shaking hands or struggling hardware (or both), but hats must go off to the developer for striving to create a control system that matches the tension and immediacy of the real-time fights.Making crime pay
As your career progresses up the criminal ladder, you're obviously going to need faster reactions and improved weaponry. As Days of Crime is a free-to-play title, you can naturally expect in-app purchases to play a big role in how quickly you can rise through these ranks and better equip yourself for increasingly difficult duels.
Pistols, shotguns, rifles, automatic weapons, and more are available in the shop, and there's a massive arsenal of alternative tools - such as grenades, Molotov cocktails, armour-piercing rounds, paper aeroplanes with dynamite strapped to them, and plenty more besides.
It also pulls in much of the gameplay that made Mafia Wars and its ilk so popular, allowing you to add people to your gang via numeric IDs and create hit lists of enemies that will notify you when they come online so you can exact revenge, rob them, and check their stats.
While this effectively adds a second element to the game that's built more around statistics, experience points, and rank, the two sides of Days of Crime's gameplay feel seamless and very complementary. This tip of the hat toward the previous generation of crime family gaming deftly prevents Days of Crime from feeling superficial.
It's not a greedy game either, and you can happily fight, grow, and remain fully active in the online criminal community without reaching into your pocket every ten minutes, so long as you're quick on the draw and always ready for a fight.
The controls might alienate people who like to play in public, since it's hard to imagine a lot of gamers wanting to wave their handset around wildly on the morning commute, but for those who like short, sharp bouts against real opponents, Days of Crime hits the bullseye.