Game Reviews

Tactical Assassin

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| Tactical Assassin
Tactical Assassin

At the risk of ending up on some sort of police watch list for saying it, I'll admit to being rather partial to sniping games. Okay, arrest me now, officer.

There's something about patiently and meticulously selecting your target and waiting for the ideal moment to strike that appeals to many gamers' innate desire to control the world from a comfortable distance. Plus, headshots.

Tactical Assassin ticks a lot of the sniping game boxes, with an enjoyable line in puzzle-like challenges (where targets need to be prioritised based on mission clues), yet it's hobbled by horrible default gyroscopic aiming and some sloppy design choices that grate the longer you play.

Line of sight

Tactical Assassin is based on a popular Flash series that shares a fair bit of gaming DNA with the scrappy, endearingly sloppy Clear Vision series.

There's no overarching story here, though. Instead, you're just a nameless chap taking blind orders with no idea about whether you're a good guy or a soulless villain.

There are only 18 missions, many of which only last a minute, yet you can expect to replay some of them on countless occasions as you time and sequence your shots to perfection.

Curiously, there's no restart button for when you fail, which forces you to monotonously tap through two menus before you can try again. It's annoying and deeply irritating whenever you get stuck - something that happens a lot.

Sensitive issue

This is an unforgiving game, with no margin for error, so it's disappointing that the gyroscopic controls seem determined to hamper your death-dealing skills.

With no option to adjust sensitivity, the sluggish controls mean you'll end up waving your rifle around like a drunk on a hunting expedition.

Being able to steady your aim helps, but not with the twitch firing many of the later missions rely on. In one example of these later missions, you have to take out the baddies surrounding a man with a briefcase before any of them can pull their weapons. Easier said than killed.

The easy route

Fortunately, you can switch to a virtual joystick that's much easier to manoeuvre, though even that feels too imprecise for the trickiest stages.

What might encourage you to persevere, though, is the dark creativity of the missions. Taking out a table full of, hopefully horrible, diners with a pistol has the up-close-and-personal feel of a mob hit, while shooting the gun out of the hand of a man on the verge of ending it all is another 'highlight'.

There are also a handful of so-so mini-games that highlight developer Simon Hason's playful side. The one that springs to mind involves your playing rifle shot keepie-uppie with a beach ball.

If the controls get fixed, then there's real potential for Tactical Assassin to make a killing in the shooter genre. At the moment, however, only die-hard virtual snipers should consider giving it a shot.

Tactical Assassin

Smart missions that demand players think rather than blindly fire make Tactical Assassin an appealing blast, so it's a shame the shoddy controls undermine your sniping skills
Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
A newspaper reporter turned games journo, Paul's first ever console was an original white Game Boy (still in working order, albeit with a yellowing tinge and 30 second battery life). Now he writes about Android with a style positively dripping in Honeycomb, stuffed with Gingerbread and coated with Froyo