Archetype HD is an unreal-tournament style multi-player first person shooter for the iPad. The first of its kind and we think it’s a reasonable start to a genre that might really kick off when iOS4’s Xbox Live style games community app, Games Centre finally arrives on the iPad.
Launch the app and you’ll be subject to a not-too-shabby cut scene which hits those familiar notes of a dystopic future on other planets – a robot insurrection, you know, all that good stuff.
The main menu gives you five options: my profile, which is erm, your profile, a buddy list of chaps you enjoyed fragging or fragging alongside, settings, recent players and start match.
Once you’ve started a match you pick which continent you’re on and then you wait until you’re allocated a match. Once you’re matched-up you all get to vote on which map you’d like to play on — it’s really quite democratic.
When battle commences it a straight frag-affair – one team versus the other. You control your characters view with one virtual joystick and movement with another, tapping either button to fire. Alternatively, if you get a lock, your gun will fire automatically.
You can pick up guns and swap between them, throw grenades and execute melee attacks in exactly the same way you’d expect from a frag title, but on the whole we found the experience of Archetype more than a little flat.
It was like drinking a glass of month-old coke that got left in the garden after a BBQ – that flat.
After two minutes of fragging we were pretty bored. The maps are uninspiring, the characters are generic spacemen that could just be from every other cyber-shoot-em-up you’ve ever played and the control system, though competent, robs you of that most important of FPS feelings — pulling the trigger (however dark and pathetic that may sound).
There’s no doubt that this is a decent start to a so far hugely under-developed genre of iOS games, but as with so many iPhone games, it feels about as deep as a puddle, made for quick buck.
We think it’s time game developers realised iPad owners would be prepared to pay double if the experience was just that bit richer.
Also we think Archetype might have a short shelf-life. The once burgeoning gaming rooms are quickly emptying. There have been times when we’ve been sitting waiting for others to come and play for up to 10 minutes, and if you’re looking for a quick blast, that’s too long.
You’d be better off buying the iPhone version, which at 59p is a sixth of the price and has twice the features.