It's even more appealing when the graphics are so good, especially if you’re lucky enough to have an iPad 2. Comparisons to Xbox 360 games are a bit OTT, but with some great lighting and some nicely detailed textures 9mm could definitely pass as a middling PlayStation 2 game, and the key characters and environments bear that up.
However, it’s not all good news. For one thing, 9mm isn’t content just to do good gunplay - it wants a little interactive movie action, meaning ropey quick-time events. These vary from interrogations to fist-fights to races through exploding hallways, but they’re all dependent on quickly tapping a button or swiping a specific area of the screen. These bits don’t add much to the tale, but the game insists on accurate swiping. You can easily fluff the sequence even through it looks like you followed instructions. The controls are an issue throughout the game, but most of the time you grin and bear it. Here, you can’t.
Plus, while it’s good to have proper dialogue and cut-scenes, it’s not so great when the story is a laughable mess of hard-bitten cop and gangsta cliches, where our hero - actually called John ‘Loose’ Kannon - can’t even go for a bite without stopping a hold-up and fighting off a horde of would-be killers, and where the investigation inevitably leads to a strip club run by a ludicrously camp psychotic pimp. The dialogue is priceless for all the wrong reasons, peppered liberally with F-words and including lines like “It’s raining bacon, melon-farmers” (to use our safe-for-family translation). Hopefully, it’s all tongue in cheek, but who knows?
The multiplayer mode is halfway brilliant. There are deathmatch and team deathmatch modes, it’s easy to find a game, and with 12 players on the go there’s no shortage of fast-paced blasting action. However, the control issues rear their ugly head more often and - with no slowmo mode to balance things out - it’s easier to get cheap kills with a shotgun from behind than proper manly kills from the front. 9mm is fun, but if you’re looking for the skill and balance of a Modern Warfare 2 then it still has a long way to go.
That’s the feeling with 9mm as a whole. In ways it’s a big step forward for smartphone/tablet games, but it suffers from a slight lack of polish and the usual touchscreen control issues that threaten to spoil the fun. While the likes of Infinity Blade and Real Racing HD show that you can work around these, 9mm still has work to do. It’s fun and definitely worth playing, but not the iPhone/iPad action game to end all action games by any means.