By Jared Newman | Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 7:54 pm
A new game called Eliminate Pro surfaced in the iPhone’s App Store yesterday, and it finally delivers everything the iPhone’s OS 3.0 update and faster 3GS model were supposed to provide.
Eliminate Pro is a free-to-play first-person shooter. The plot is minimal — you’re a test subject at a weapons development company — and the play is basic, pitting you against a few other players in simple deathmatch arenas. You need at least an iPhone 3G to play, but you get better map rendering on the iPhone 3GS. Graphically speaking, the game has a solid presentation and looks a bit like Quake 2 in terms of detail.
But what’s most interesting about Eliminate Pro is the business model, made possible with OS 3.0. There aren’t any ads, and it never costs you anything to play, but if you want to gain experience points and in-game currency for buying and upgrading gear, you’ll need “energy.” You only get enough energy for roughly a half dozen rounds, after which you’ll either need to buy more with real money or wait for about four real-world hours. A basic unit of energy costs $1 and lasts you for another half dozen rounds or so, though you can buy the stuff in increments of $10 or even $40.
So this is the iPhone’s new free app with in-game purchases model, but does it work? Sort of. I’m happy to keep the game on my iPhone, but I’m not tempted to buy more energy. The cost to keep earning experience and credits is simply too high — games go fast, so you could easily burn through $10 in a day — and there’s no option to pay once for all-you-can-play. The controls also need more customization, as I couldn’t quite get comfortable enough to achieve the lightning-quick response needed to feel like I’m playing a legitimate first-person shooter.
But for now, this is as good as it gets on the iPhone (disregarding Doom Classic and Wolfenstein 3D, which get special classic status). Eliminate Pro uses a business model that’s in line with the iPhone’s dirt-cheap economy, and it’s perfectly serviceable for a few minutes of fun. It may not be a great game, but it’s a good snapshot of where iPhone gaming stands right now.