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Pop quiz, hot-shot. You’ve got a gun. You need skills. Theres a hundred iPhone apps for that. What do you do?What do you do?

If you’re like me, you head to the iTunes store and snag a copy of AAA Sniper Range 3D, and give it a shot. Well, shooting fans, lemme save you the trouble. This game is good – don’t get me wrong – but it falls frustratingly short of the bulls-eye I’m looking for in a first-class, realistic range sim. Lemme tell you what I mean…

When you first open up the app. you’ll see a page with a bunch of buttons. Nothing wrong with that, but all but one of them are provided so that you can more conveniently buy stuff. Their stuff. Including other games, and more weapons for the range. How conVEEEE-nient. For them. For users, it’s just one more thing standing between you and the game. Annoying, but not a deal-breaker. Tip #1, you’ll want to go down to the bottom right hand corner and tap on the button that says shooting range. Now you’re in the shooting range, looking at a target in the distance, in an attractive, outdoor scene. But at this point in the game it’s not very clear what to do next. Tip #2,  press the button that reads calibrate. That will adjust the game and zer0-out whatever angle you’re holding your iPhone or iPod. Next, you’ll want to press the scope button – once for 6x magnification, making it easy (er) to find the target, then a second click to turn on the 12x scope. Now that you have all of that figured out its time to start shooting. just press where you want the bullet to go and you will see it on the picture of a target in the upper left corner.

The controls are confusing. For example, there are no instructions, instead they rely upon the intuitive nature of their interface. Bad move on their part. Is it intuitive? Um…not so much. On the good side, they do allow you to control adding/ignoring wind, change the distance to the target, reverse the X-Y controls, and so forth. Nice, but a little difficult to figure out, at least at first.

What’s not to like? Plenty, unfortunately. First of all, the only indication you get regarding your score is your “best shot” and your distance to the bull’s eye. That’s nice, but you get no idea of accuracy or anything else. Then there’s the fact that you have only one model of rifle. You want more? You’ll have to buy ’em from the store as an in-app purchase. I’d like to see at least the choice of a pistol and a rifle.

But my least favorite “feature” is the way the targets behave. What I’d like to have is something like a Shoot-N-See target, where you’d see day-glo rings around your bullet holes. What you get is a black smudge. If you deliver several hits within an inch or so of one another, you’ll pop off a section of the target. It was only after I’d cleared a bunch of sections before I understood that the weird orange/tan shape that emerged behind the paper target was, in fact, a letter “I”-shaped piece of plywood behind the target, acting like an easel for the target. Makes sense, I guess, but it took a little getting used to.


Because the wood shows no hits, you have no idea if you’re hitting in the same spot, if you knock out a section of the target. (You can turn off the feature that removes target sections, but that doesn’t help  much.)

Aside from not-so-insignificant flaws, it’s the best range sim I’ve played so far. The play-ability of this game is good but at times, its a little challenging. It’s fun to plink away, but it would be more fun with a more robust scoring mechanism, and a better idea of where you’re actually hitting. The usability of this game is okay – except for the problems I had with the non-intuitive interface.. I personally like this game a lot. iTunes gave it 3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars. Personally I that I have to agree.

So, hotshot, when you’re looking for a home off the range for your gun training needs, what do you do? Get a copy of AAA Sniper Range 3D will do. At least until something better comes along.

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