It’s hard not to admire games like High Noon that manage to take an immensely simple concept and expand it into a brand new gaming mythology.
That might sound like overly gushing praise for an opening line in a review, but in this case it’s quite simply a fact – High Noon is a game that’s not content to provide 30 seconds of touchscreen fun. It went several extra miles to give its players a full experience, and that’s something too many games are lacking on the App Store.
The raw gameplay is – on face value – very limited and a tad uninspired. As the name suggests, we’re visiting the Wild West, where quick draw isn’t just the name of the game, but a survival system. After setting up your basic, unadorned gun slinger personality, you’re invited to test your mettle against a couple of CPU-controlled enemies to get your eye in.
The shootout is represented pretty simply. A (mostly unanimated) enemy dances around at the other end of the street, and it’s up to you to put your accelerometer-controlled crosshairs on him and shoot until his feet quit kickin’. Simple, and without any real fanfare.
Where the game suddenly comes to life is after this brief tutorial. High Noon is very much an online multiplayer game, but what’s unexpected is it’s similarity to the likes of Mafia Wars. The social gaming side to High Noon soon takes over from the death matches, though duelling is still very much at the core of your progression.
A boardwalk of other online desperadoes and cut-throats await you, giving you the option of duelling against anyone of a similar experience level who isn’t already in a shootout. The draw begins with each player holstering their iPhone (by putting it to your side), then whipping the screen up when the device vibrates and attempting to take out the other fellow before he gives you a terminal case of lead poisoning. Run out of bullets, and you must tip the iPhone forward to open the chamber and tap new bullets into the gun.
The winner bags the gold, which can be used to upgrade your character visually and in terms of weaponry. Your experience grows depending on the number of successful duels you’ve fought, and the option to add other cowboys to your friends or your shitlist (that’s what the game calls it, I swear) begins to build you a community of gunslingers.
If social gaming has hooked you before, then High Noon is guaranteed to get you dancin’ like a rattler on a hot tin roof. But if the strategic, hands-off approach of games like Mafia Wars and iMob Online was an obstacle you just couldn’t get past in social gaming, then High Noon will deliver the action that was previously found lacking.