Exclusive: Hands on with multiplayer shooter Eliminate on iPhone
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There's a saying in politics: "Name an issue and you own it." Now that Eliminate has been named, we're ready to own it. While not everything is ideal about this ambitious multiplayer shooter, our hands on with the game made it clear that it's fundamentally fun to play.
Eliminate hires you as a employee of Arsenal MegaCorp, a defence contractor charged with devising all manner of modern weaponry from laser beams to high-powered shotguns to gravity-based grappling hooks. Your job is testing all of the experimental equipment. In other words, getting paid means fragging your colleagues.
There's only one mode of play for this multiplayer-only network shooter: Deathmatch. Under the "Play" option on the main menu, you're given a choice among playing with others from the global community, friends listed on your Plus+ profile, or against computer-controlled bots. You might have guessed, but Eliminate will require you to register an account with Plus+.
Matches with friends and those from the international community are where it's going to be at, mainly due to the lack of reward when playing against the computer. Credits, which are needed to purchase upgrades and armour, can only be earned when competing live.
Kills net you credits, though there's a limit on how many credits you can earn in a given period of time. Your avatar possesses an energy gauge that depletes with play and once it's empty you're unable to earn credits. The gauge regenerates over time, but you can purchase refills to get back into the game immediately.
Money - cash money - is used to buy refills, not credits. It's an altogether bizarre, highly risky proposition for a game already taking a chance with online-only play. While it's important to make clear that these energy refills are optional - Eliminate will not mandate additional spending beyond the initial purchase of the game - it calls into question the game's balancing.
How will the game account for those players who plunk down cash to refill their energy repeatedly, thus earning more credits and gaining an edge over those who wait for their energy to regenerate naturally? In truth, it may not be a problem at all, but it's something that concerns us and we'll be eagerly examining it post-launch.
The intensity of the action is wholly unaffected by any structural elements, which is to say Eliminate promises stupendous shooter gameplay.
Given that only four players inhabit a match, there's a tremendous amount of activity with weapons fire bouncing around the tiny environments, power-ups boosting stats and cloaking players, and shooting skills straight up being tested. There's no other way to say it: it's a blast to play.
Phenomenal stability ensures the game runs smoothly over 3G (even better with a solid wi-fi connection) and much-needed changes to the interface guarantee easier control.
Gone is the odd jump mechanic that had you tapping the edge of your handset. It's replaced with a simple press at the bottom of the screen. Movement and camera look have been reconfigured for superior control, falling in line with other successful shooters like Modern Combat: Sandstorm.
The strength of its action has the potential to pull Eliminate through any bumps encountered by its unusual micro-transaction system. This is the most fun we've had with any first-person shooter on iPhone to date, which is an accomplishment given the hurdles to overcome with regards to control, a small player count, and network limitations.