Time Crisis 2nd Strike is Namco’s latest iPhone adaptation of its popular light gun series – and things are still a little screwy. As an ace super agent hot on the trail of a gang of terrorists, you must tap-tap-tap your way out of dangerous situations against waves of gunmen. But there is a little more to the shooting gallery than tapping the bad guys to death. Using on-screen pedals, you must also duck out of the way to avoid incoming fire and reload your weapons. This adds a slight element of strategy to Time Crisis 2nd Strike. But it doesn’t fill the void caused by some weirdly frustrating action.
Each mission is broken down into a series of vignettes, each only 15 or so seconds long. You need to get through each section before time runs out. To finish a vignette, kill everybody in the immediate area. This adds time to the clock, giving you a better chance of making it through all of the areas within that mission. You can burn all of your time if you miss an enemy and have to wait for him to pop back out into the open (terrorists are smart enough to duck away from time to time), so there is an element of pattern memorization here.
Shooting is as simple as tapping an enemy. Some can be taken down with a single shot, but others require you to really cop a feel. Two problems pop up here. One, as you reach across the screen to tap a bad guy, you can inadvertently cover up another enemy who will either shoot you or go back into hiding, leaving you desperately scanning the screen as your clock runs down. The second issue is precision. Some of the bad guys lurk in the distance and can appear very small. This makes them easy to miss. Sure, it’s supposed to be harder to hit distant targets – that’s kinda the point – but your index finger is not necessarily a precision tool.
I do appreciate that Namco added extra weapons to Time Crisis 2nd Strike like a machinegun, shotgun, and grenade launcher. Using the shotgun, for example, means you don’t have to be as precise – but this does not exactly rectify the distance issue because a shotgun is more of a close-quarters weapon. I also really like the pedal system for ducking away from the action to reload. During this time, you lose about 50-percent of your viewing angle and can miss the location of bad guys. That’s completely understandable because, well, you’re ducking. It’s when you miss an enemy because of your hand that Time Crisis 2nd Strike frustrates.
Time Crisis 2nd Strike also includes a competitive mode when you blaze through the main game, allowing you to go for the best scores or times. That’s a good extra, too, but because I’m not crazy about the action in the first place, this is not something I foresee spending a lot of time with beyond the review period.
To be sure, I did not expect Time Crisis on an iPhone to be as fun as it is in the arcade. The visceral thrill of actually aiming and firing at marauders and thugs simply cannot be replaced by tapping on a small screen. But the bottom line is that I just did not enjoy Time Crisis 2nd Strike. I thought it was dull and was shot way too many times because I missed an enemy hiding behind my finger while trying to touch another dude.