Review: Extraction (Xbox Live)
Chilingo are known for puzzle games with a bit of physics thrown in. After taking some time to enjoy Extraction on Xbox Live, I'll be thinking about them for action games as well. The one man vs. an entire army genre is on show here, along with some great graphics and a control system that's very well suited to a small screened mobile device.
Version Reviewed: 188.8.131.52
There's a good old-fashioned B-movie plot running through the game, and I'm not gong to spoil it here beyond the broad stroke of 'there has been an outbreak of a killer virus at a research facility, and the outbreak has infected many soldiers'. If you think you can guess what happens next, you'd be right. If you think the story on your smartphone can be as fun as a Kurt Russell tribute act... you'd be right as well.
Extraction's big marketing feature is that the game can be played with a single finger. Let's get this clear now with no prevarication. That claim is true. Not only is it true, but they've managed to ensure that the game is not diluted due to a lack of precision.
Your finger is going to control movement, weapons fire, and hand to hand combat. The key is what you do with your finger on the screen. A single tap will see your character move to that point. A swipe over an enemy will target them with your chosen weapon, while a scrubbing back and forwards motion will see you punch and kick them when you are within arms reach of them.
While you do have to switch from moving your character around and targeting the enemy, this is a simple mental jump. Sometimes the action can get slightly confusing, and at this point a second finger is going to need to come into play, because you can use the pinch gesture to zoom the playing field to get the best view on the action.
Finally you have buttons around the edge of the screen for selecting different weapons, grenades, and the pause button (which brings up the menu options).
While Extraction is a top down game, with the action taking place on a single 'height' of a map, it has a little 3D effect to give you a really nice feeling that you are in a physical world. Think of it like a very subtle fish eye lens which puts a tiny amount of curve into the world so every wall reaches to the sky at an angle slightly less than perfectly vertical.
Add in some grimy textures for concrete walls, fences, and doors between different areas of the map, and you have a great mix of exploration, suspense, and combat. Adding to the ambience are some pitch perfect sound effects that really add to the experience.
My only worry is that Extraction loses a little bit of immersion because the overhead view left me feeling distant from the action. In a sense that's true, because I am commanding the action rather than taking part and being in the action, but it still felt one step removed, which is unusual for an action game like this.
Outside of the levels, you can improve your equipment by levelling them up. As you improve one piece of tech, you will be offered a 'branching' route to choose new weaponry, which leads to some interesting choices that can have a small effect on how you play the game. This gives Extraction some replay value, but like any good arcade game it's only a subtle change that doesn't fundamentally change how the game is played.
One final touch that I smiled at... the demo version won't let you restore a saved game until you buy the application. In some circumstances that could be very frustrating (I'm looking at you, Little Acorns). but the length of time it takes to play a level on Extraction means this is far less of an issue. Once you've worked through the first two you've got the control system sorted, the tactics are starting to become clear, and you'll know if it's a keeper or not.
For me it's a keeper, and that's before realising it's in the lowest price bracket of 79p/99 cents.
Extraction looks and sounds the part, and thankfully it's easy to control while still retaining the accuracy needed in a combat game. Definitely one to look at the free trial, and I think the majority of people would be happy to step up to the full version.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at