What separates Android from other video game platforms is the open nature of the Play Store, which enables a wide range of gaming experiences. Whether you’re a console gamer, member of the PC master race, or just a casual fan, there’s an Android game for you.
This wide range can make it difficult on Android game critics, as the games can’t necessarily be judged by the same bar a triple-A blockbuster is. A standard PS3 or PS4 game costs over $20 million to develop, whereas a large-scale Android game can be fully developed for under $1 million (and $25k is enough to recreate Flappy Bird).
I had to keep this bar in mind when playing Elite Killer: SWAT, a freemium third-person shooter (incorrectly labeled as a first-person shooter in the Play Store, I assume for SEO purposes) published by CanadaDroid. While in no way a perfect and not ready for even the Xbox Arcade, it’s actually a relatively fun game to play while waiting in the lobby of your favorite TPS.
Gears of Warfare
If you’re a fan of Gears of War, you’ll instantly recognize the TPS mechanics, and if you’ve played Unreal (the namesake of Epic’s game engine), even the announcer will sound familiar with his Vince McMahon-esque delivery of “Head shot!” Limited by budget and the need to run on as wide a range of devices as possible, Elite Killer delivers these experiences in short, controlled bursts.
And that’s exactly what drew me into the game. You can’t win at any shooter game by spraying bullets all over the place with your assault rifle. It takes the restraint of an elite killer, willing to aim perfectly before firing off intermittent bursts. Not only does this work as a metaphor for the game itself, it’s a key strategy to obtaining the full three stars in each mission.
Your movements are limited to three spots which you move between and stay ducked behind until firing one of the two weapons (one sniper and one assault rifle) you’re able to bring with you. It’s not the most immersive shooter and lacks any kind of storyline, but it works for satiating that need to continuously hone your shooting skills.
Fish in a Barrel
However, as I mentioned earlier, Elite Killer isn’t perfect. On several occasions while playing, I found myself being shot at by an invisible drone. Aiming into thin air, I was forced to guesstimate its exact location based on the health bar that appears when you aim at a target. You can see one encounter with an invisible drone at the 0:37 mark of the video below.
Elite Killer contains 100 levels spread out over 10 chapters which each represent a unique locale. Missions didn’t vary much, though occasionally you get a quick sniper level where only one shot is necessary to end the level or get behind a rail gun for a bullet fest.
The best weapons required the usage of gold, but gold wasn’t as hard to collect as it can be in some freemium garbage. In addition to your primary and secondary weapons, you have grenades, health packs, and air strikes that can be collected and used.
In addition, there’s a ranked PVP mode, though it’s not the type of PVP you’d think. It’s just you against an AI-controlled opponent with stats and weapons matching what that player has achieved (and I have a feeling this isn’t always accurate as well). By grinding through PVP, you can earn dog tags which can be used as in-game currency to purchase powerful weapons from the PVP store.
I can’t prove it, but the ranking system felt like it wasn’t entirely genuine. The first week, I started playing on a Thursday and was able to crack the top 200 by Sunday night when it reset. The second week, I maxed out my energy at least twice daily almost entirely on PVP and still peaked in the low 100s. If there’s only a 100 rank difference (out of thousands) between dedicating three and seven days of grinding, something smells fishy to me.
The Final Word
Elite Killer won’t find a spot on anyone’s top 10 list, but it’s still a nice effort for a freemium game. While limited, it works well for what it is, and I can respect that. It’s not on the level of Halo, Unreal, or Gears, but it does a solid job of allowing you to grab a few weapons and kill some terrorists.
This definitely isn’t the game you’d be excited to find under a Christmas tree, but rather a nice stocking stuffer. You get what you pay for in this life, and there are far worse free gaming experiences to be found in the Play Store. Enjoy the video of gameplay footage captured with my Shield tablet.