Eliminate Pro is a deathmatch-style first-person shooter with a pace that's savagely fast, and has a fun factor that grips you like a drug. If you're not careful, Eliminate Pro will make a junkie out of you. And like any smart dealer, developer Ngmoco gives away just enough for free to make you want more.
This is a standard first-person deathmatch game, in which you and up to three other players are set in a small, dynamic level, and have to kill one another as many times as possible before time runs out or someone racks up 10 kills. You have the option to play offline against bots, but you won't want to. Eliminate is best played online, where you're speedily matched up with players of similar skill waiting to turn you into Swiss cheese. Online mode is also where you earn credits, which are necessary to level up and upgrade the stats of your weapons, armor, and items. Because of this, it's also where you're likely to get hooked.
The gear-purchase and upgrade system is so deep and rewarding that players who love geeking around with that sort of thing will have nearly as much fun buying equipment and upgrading their stats as they do fragging opponents online. The reason it's so rewarding is that once you upgrade, you can immediately see changes in your next match. If you increase the damage of your plasma cannon, for instance, you'll notice opponents going down in fewer shots. If you buy a new suit of armor, you'll feel almost invincible for a while. Eliminate Pro offers so many options to gear up and handcraft your stats that it really gives you a feeling of investment in your character.
The controls are set up like most recent shooter games on the iDevice, and they're great. You have a stick on the left that moves you forward and backward and strafes left and right. Drag your thumb around the right side of the screen to look around. A jump button sits at the bottom center of the screen--not necessarily the best place for a button during the heat of combat, but it gets the job done. Tapping the center of the screen zooms in, and tapping the upper right-hand corner switches weapons. There's also a handy auto-shoot feature that makes your weapon go off every time your crosshair points at a bad guy.
The environments are well designed, too. Since only four players face off against one another at a time, it's to everyone's benefit that the maps are small enough that you'll never spend too much time looking for someone to shoot. All maps have moving parts, like elevator platforms, spinning walls, or even a deadly trash compactor-like mechanism. Scattered throughout the levels are powerups that boost your speed, shield, health, or damage. When you make a kill, your fallen opponent spills out credits and health boosts that you or sneaky opponents can scoop up. The levels and graphics aren't overly pretty, but with the intensity of the action and the quick load times, that's an easy issue to overlook.
It's a bit harder to overlook the investments you may end up making in this game. Outside of deathmatches, you have an energy bar that depletes with each match you play. A full energy bar will let you play about three matches (which should take just a few minutes apiece). If you run out of energy, you have three options. You can continue playing but without earning credits; or you can wait several real-time hours for your bar to recharge on its own; or you can use "power cells" to recharge your bar manually. While you start out with 30 power cells, these will last you just long enough to become invested in the game. Additional power cells are available via in-app purchase. Twelve power cells are required to fill up your energy bar all the way. While this means you'll have to do some math to figure out how many, if any, you want to purchase at any given time, it's easy to become hooked right away and keep buying energy credits to stay in the game. Ngmoco's own Plus+ network tracks leaderboards, connects you with friends, and grants you achievements, and the system's online matchmaking works fairly well. The tutorial and in-game manual do a fine job of explaining everything you need to know. A tiny "WTF" button (standing for "where to find") appears in the corner of each menu screen, and tapping it brings up the section of the manual that explains whatever you're looking at.
You really have nothing to lose by downloading Eliminate Pro. Its siren song will call loudest to hardcore gamers, but anyone can and should give it a shot. That first, free allotment of power cells will fuel your habit for about an hour, which is enough time for you to decide how you'd like to proceed. Some players might feel nickel and dimed by the in-app purchases, though the experience almost seems to recall the old coin-operated arcade games of yesteryear. Casual players can dabble for free, while hardcore addicts can pay as they go. Any way you slice it, this is one of the most polished full experiences you'll find for free on the App Store.
This review was provided by GameSpot mobile content partner SlideToPlay.com.