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If you’re an iPhone user (or a new iPad owner) and into firearms, it might have occurred to you that the Apple dynamic duo might make a useful platform for something other than phone calls, namely some rockin’ simulations and games in the gun genre. And you’d be right. Above, you’ll see a screen shot from one such little treasure, Shadowland: The Sniper. Priced at an excruciatingly reasonable $0.00 (a.k.a. “Free!”), Shadowland is a no-nonsense simulation of what it’s like behind the scope of a sniper’s rifle. You begin simply enough, with the task of shooting an empty wine bottle and a can, followed by another wine bottle. Then the real fun begins – targets that can shoot back. After those first three practice rounds, it’s kill or be killed time, with no time for remorse or agonizin’ reappraisals.

The interface is simplicity in and of itself. You’ve got a scope. You’ve got a trigger. Tilt the iPhone or iPad to get your target in the crosshairs (trickier than it sounds) and gently wipe your finger down the side, simulating the trigger squeeze. Miss or take too long to shoot, and the last thing you’ll see is a splotch of red blood in the center of the scope (yours, as it were) and a slow fade to black.

The game then helpfully starts over again. There is no menu. No way to change the tempo. No “click here to wimp out and make things easier” button, which makes it a lot like real life. And the feel of moving the iPhone to acquire the target is, frankly, a lot like the real thing.

There’s no blood in this version. No spray of brain matter, bone, and other organs. Which makes it less realistic, and a whole lot less disturbing than some other sniper games around (reviews coming Really Soon Now).

The tempo of the game picks up quickly. You’ll find if you can’t acquire and take out the targets without delay, bang, bang and you’re dead. That’s fairly realistic, from what I’ve heard from those in the military.

But is it fun? Well, I’d give it a thumbs up, simply because it seems to be a great deal more realistic than most single-person shooters that I’ve played. It is a little frustrating though, simply because the bad guys don’t take long to start shooting, once you’ve gotten through the training set. And of course, you can’t beat the price. Which is a good thing, as reviewers in the iTunes store have complained that the mission is fairly short, and there’s nothing to do, once you’ve completed the mission.

If you’ve got an iPhone or iPad, I’d recommend you give Shadowland: The Sniper a try. Like it or not, it won’t break the bank.

Title: Shadowland: The Sniper

Rating * * * * (out of five)

Price: Free

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iPhone OS 2.2 or later.

Summary: It’s nasty, brutish and short. Whadda ya expect from a game about shooting people in the head?


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