Developer/Publisher: Hiker Games | Overall: 7.5/10
When it comes to games, there are few things that make me physically cringe just thinking about. Genres sometimes just don’t belong on the platform they try to be on, first person shooters possibly being the #1 example of what not to play on your phone or tablet. The thought of analog controls on a touch screen, and being forced to be accurate in your shots is not an appealing thought in my head. There would probably be a hundred other things I’d rather do, including writing an article lambasting the very thought of having to bother with it.
Here’s the thing with FZ9: Timeshift. It isn’t terrible. In fact, it’s playable, and possibly even enjoyable to people with my mindset going into it! The gameplay hook of having everything in bullet time alleviates the typical frantic pace you would expect from first person shooters and gives you time to adjust and compensate due to the awful control method. The worst things about the game aren’t even the gameplay itself, but the same old tired restrictions you typically see in a free to play game: two different types of currencies, one being a premium currency, and a time-based Energy “recharge” that allows you to continue playing until you have no more to spend. There’s also grinding endlessly for “Battle Points” and “Experience Points” to get further in the game, and while you get something of a progression effect for your efforts in doing so, it feels obnoxiously gated.
Of course, these things come with the territory when you commit to a free to play game, I guess. There has to be a revenue stream somehow. The restrictions don’t seem too tight, since every couple hours you’ll be back to full speed and able to play for about 15 to 20 minutes or so. Depending on your lifestyle this may be just fine for you. For me personally, it breaks up the kinds of games I normally play on my phone, which are almost exclusively in the puzzle genre.
What is really lacking here is a specific hook to make you want to come back and keep playing. The story is pretty awful on the outset, so that’s not really a motivating factor. The designs of the missions are essentially on-rails (you move freely, but no exploration is involved, and you move down corridors), so they don’t offer much in different outcomes or things to do. The missions get a little bit more interesting once you hit Chapter 2, but any semblance of a story is thrown into the garbage. The missions cost 1 Energy (out of your maximum 10) to play but would be pretty boring to grind, so you may as well just do the Cycle Mission, which costs 2 Energy. The Cycle Mission is an assortment of challenges that you will randomly get assigned to and complete in pursuit of grinding Battle Points to unlock more talents. Those missions are actually designed in a lot more fun way than the on-rails shooting the story mode forces you through. The talents you unlock are linked to unlocking content, which become more challenging. Once you complete Chapter 2, you’ll unlock a “PVP” mode in which you’ll try to beat another player by completing one of the solo missions faster than they can. While it is more exciting to play through the solo missions in this way, it costs more Energy, too.
The music is intense as fuck. During some levels, it weaves in and out between “level music” and “battle music” which can be kind of annoying since you are constantly reengaging with enemies. It doesn’t seem to happen all of the time, though, so it just seems to rely on how the level is designed. I always have my phone on silent, so its not really something that mattered to me in the end. The graphics are something from early PlayStation 2 days, if that — passable for a phone, but not the best you can see on the platform. You also kill a lot of dogs, so if you like animals more than humans, maybe you should skip this title. I suppose the dogs ARE trying to kill you, so maybe it won’t be that big of a deal.
If there’s enjoyment to be had out of this game, it is very limited. While the bullet time aspect of the game makes a playable title for your phone, it doesn’t make it particularly fun or exciting. There does seem to be quite a few chapters of single player mode, but again, the story is awful, and nothing is really making me want to come back for more of it or anything else. But hey, it’s free.