iPhone app shootout: Resident Evil 4 vs. Metal Gear Solid Touch

Sections: iPhone, iPhone OS, SDK and hacks, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, iPod, iPod touch, Reviews

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This whole iPhone thing is getting way of control. Games we would’ve never dreamed of seeing on the Mac have found their way to a telephone? Seriously? Okay, well, I’m not going to question it, I’m just going to enjoy it. Two standout console titles are amongst the latest high profile games to head our way, and I’ve spent some time trying out both. It’s Capcom’s Resident Evil 4 vs. Konami’s Metal Gear Solid Touch. Which was most successful at making the transition to the iPhone? Let’s take a look.

Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil 4Category: Horror/survival, third-person shooter
Seller: CAPCOM Co., Ltd.
Compatibility: iPhone or iPod touch
Requirements: iPhone OS 2.2.1 or later
File Size: 37.3MB
Price: $7.99
Age Rating: 9+ (infrequent/mild realistic violence, infrequent/mild horror/fear themes)
Appletell Rating: 4 out of 5
App Store Link: Resident Evil 4

Resident Evil is one of my all time favorite game franchises, and Resident Evil 4 for the Wii is my favorite game within that franchise. The combination of exploration, puzzle solving and zombie killing was about as perfectly balanced as could be in the Wii version, so I was quite curious to see how the game fared on the iPhone. The result is mostly favorable. Although the iPhone does limit the game somewhat, CAPCOM was able to push the device to places it hasn’t previously been.

Resident Evil 4

The plot of Resident Evil 4 revolves around Leon Kennedy and his search for the President’s daughter, who’s been kidnapped and taken to…Europe? Is it that easy to kidnap the President’s daughter and take her out of the country? Well, never you mind about that. What matters is that there are a lot of infamously “non” zombies to kill as you seek out young Ashley Graham and then attempt to protect her from Los Illuminados. You’ll get some help along the way, but the game is mainly about you and your knife and guns. Thankfully, your supply of ammunition isn’t nearly as limited here as in the console versions.

On the Wii, you aimed by pointing the Wiimote at the screen and firing. On the iPhone, it plays more like with a standard gamepad. Movement is controlled by a virtual disc on the bottom left of the screen. When you want to fire, tap the gun icon on the right to go into aiming mode, at which point the D-pad allows you to aim, not move. Tap another icon to regain movement. In other words, you can’t run and shoot at the same time. It’s a pretty simple mechanic, but it becomes quite stressful when you’re surrounded by zombies. And, unlike in the console versions, you have to kill them all here. For the most part, advancing through the 12 levels is a matter of killing all the zombies on that level, not just finding the right key to open the right door. Don’t worry, though…some of the excellent boss battles remain, and they don’t lose their punch on the tiny iPhone. Ashley escort missions also remain, as does the greatest and most illogical weapons merchant in the history of everything.

Resident Evil 4

In other words, although this isn’t a direct port of the console game, most of the elements that made that game great do remain. Finishing the game unlocks a pro mode, and there are even mercenary missions that offer numerous quick challenges. What’s more, the game looks great. It’s a downgrade from the console versions, of course, and it’s more brown and gray than ever, but here’s your new app to show of what the iPhone is capable of. It’s much better looking than anything on the DS, and is now rivaling the graphics found in some PSP games. The only large complaint I have is with the audio, as elements seem to drop out frequently. It doesn’t hamper the gameplay but it does hurt the overall experience.

Still, fans of Resident Evil won’t be disappointed here, provided you’re willing to remember that you’re an iPhone, and can accept the necessary changes the device requires.

Metal Gear Solid Touch

Metal Gear Solid TouchCategory: Touch/arcade shooter
Seller: Konami Digital Entertainment
Compatibility: iPhone or iPod touch
Requirements: iPhone OS 2.0 or later
File Size: 138MB
Price: $5.99
Age Rating: 9+ (infrequent/mild realistic violence)
Appletell Rating: 4 out of 5
App Store Link: Metal Gear Solid Touch

Metal Gear Solid Touch takes a different approach with the franchise, playing more like Virtua Cop or Duck Hunt than a Metal Gear Solid game. You’re still Snake, and the game still takes place in the Metal Gear Solid world, but its reduced to its most basic gameplay element: shoot people.

Snake doesn’t move in this game, aside from standing and squatting behind cover. Rather, throughout the 20 stages, enemies and power-ups appear on a static screen. You aim at them, and you shoot them. Honestly? It’s the kind of game I hate, but I really like Metal Gear Solid Touch for numerous reasons.

First, the mechanics are well designed. Tapping on the enemy to fire could’ve been disastrous, at it would force you to hide the screen behind your finger. Rather, you slide your finger anywhere on the screen to move your reticle, then tap anywhere on the screen to fire. This means you can keep your finger at the bottom of the iPhone and out of the way.

Metal Gear Solid Touch

Second, a timer spins down around your target, letting you know how long it’ll be before he fires at you. This allows you to more effectively select your targets so you can minimize the amount of hits you’re taking while shooting someone else. Switching weapons is also intuitive: pinch and reverse pinch, meaning you don’t have to take your eyes off the enemy to switch to your sniper rifle. If you know how to use an iPhone, you know how to play Metal Gear Solid Touch.

Third, the graphics are great. Arcade shooters like this tend to be cartoonish and often quite goofy in their presentation. That’s not the case here, although the frequent appearance of the rubber duck (for power-ups) and the hapless innocent bystanders who casually pop up just to not be hit do tend to pull you out of the action. The levels are tied together with a story that’s quite predictable and far too macho, but I guess that’s part of the charm.

Metal Gear Solid Touch

Konami also threw in some console style prizes, such as iPhone wallpapers for completing certain tasks. You may get through the game fairly quickly, but these prizes give you a reason to go back and do better, as some of them are quite difficult to obtain.

Fans of Metal Gear Solid may not like what their franchise has been reduced to on the iPhone, but as far as arcade shooters go, this is as good as it gets. You need not have any idea who Snake is in order to enjoy this game. In fact, it may help if you don’t.

If you would like to try it out before you buy, a free lite version is available.

The Victor

Although both games are quite good for what they are, I’m going with Resident Evil 4 here. It’s simply a more impressive and satisfying iPhone gaming experience. Metal Gear Solid Touch, despite is obvious strengths, is ultimately just another arcade shooter. A great one, but an arcade shooter nonetheless. You can pick it up and play it faster than Resident Evil 4, but its lack of depth, story, variety and…well…zombies ultimately slows it down to soon. Resident Evil 4, on the other hand, keeps picking up steam as it moves along.

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  • jakar

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