If nothing else, 9mm is a good indicator of where smartphone and tablet gaming has got to - and where it’s going. Gameloft’s iPhone/iPad action game is an ambitious title, with impressive graphics and features like fully voiced cut-scenes and a proper hip-hop soundtrack that we would only have expected to see in a console release a few years ago. It even packs in online and WiFi multiplayer deathmatch, all of which makes the £4.99 price tag seem more than reasonable.
Of course, it’s not difficult to see 9mm’s influences. The look and feel is pure GTA: San Andreas and Saint’s Row; all tattooed gangstas and urban grime. The gameplay is almost 100% Remedy’s Max Payne. Each level is a procession of arenas, through which your renegade cop bursts through in a hail of bullets. You move him with a virtual thumbstick on the left of the screen and change your view by swiping with a finger across the surface. You can fire and tweak your aim using a second virtual button on the right.
The Max Payne bit comes in with the slow-motion feature. Click the timer button and you freeze time to a crawl for a few seconds, giving you the space to line-up multiple shots and take down multiple crims before they can draw a bead on you. What’s more, by swiping across the timer button you can trigger a dive or roll in that direction, evading incoming fire while dispensing justice in the form of red-hot lead. Saying that it’s like a John Woo movie on your iPad is stretching things, but when 9mm works it’s very cool indeed.
In fact, it’s all very satisfying. Enemies come thick and fast, the weapons are varied and meaty, and the dumb enemy AI and slow-mo feature help compensate for the lack of precision in the touchscreen controls. When you’re cornered, sweeping desperately at the screen to see who’s blasting at you, 9mm can be frustrating, but when you get into the game’s basic flow, it’s close to brilliant. It’s hard not to love a game where you can execute three villains in a single, slow-motion dive, then watch as the camera zooms-in on a jammy headshot.