Lock ‘n’ Load
Platforms: iPad (Reviewed), iPhone, iPod Touch
Release Date: April 19th 2012
Price: $0.99 Get it Here
Hail to the king baby! Chillingo and GameLab brings us a new twin stick shooter that takes some serious inspiration from Duke Nukem and scrubs it down to an age 13+ rating. In a genre already filled to the brim with games, can Lock ‘n’ Load rise to the top? Or will it sink to the bottom with the rest of the dreg.
Lock ‘n’ Load follows our yellow coverall wearing masked hero who reminds me a little too much of Jason from Friday the 13th. Those who were misfortunate enough to be shown the film at age 10 will probably feel a little uncomfortable while playing Lock ‘n’ Load. Our masked hero has been enjoying a peaceful life living next to the most darling grandmother when one day a girl of unspeakable evil and begins her plot to take over the world. She only made one fatal error in her plan. She let her minions crush our hero’s flower garden. Now, with his elderly neighbour’s machine gun, our hero is off to save the world. The storyline isn’t the deepest in the world but it is witty and very funny. The wheelchair bound grandmother is probably my favourite character in the game. Although you shouldn’t play Lock ‘n’ Load for the plot, it sure is nice to have a little story going along as you blast away at the enemy.
Lock ‘n’ Load is a twin stick shooter. The concept is extremely simple. One stick to move, one stick to shoot. The game does not mess with the formula but is a great example of the genre done correctly. The main weapon is the machine gun and has unlimited ammunition. It’s weak but it is the only weapon with decent range. There are two weapons, the shotgun and the flamethrower, are limited by ammunition which must be either picked up or purchased with in-game money. There is a special berserker jump ability that recharges as players kill enemies. All these special weapons need to be purchased with in-game money to be initially unlocked and then can be further upgraded with money. I was disappointed to see that the machine gun could not be upgraded as it is the only weapon that has any sort of range and enemies tend to get a little tougher by the end of the game.
There are 32 types of enemies to kill in Lock ‘n’ Load. Almost all of them fall under four main categories, small creatures that come in packs, larger melee enemies, ranged enemies, and larger versions of the previous categories that serve as mini bosses. Creatures from the first two classes seem to only look different. However ranged creatures each have their own style of attack which helps maintain variety in the game and forces players to adjust their tactics depending on who they are fighting. I enjoyed the different types of enemies I had to face as it constantly kept me on my toes while I mowed them down endlessly.
The game usually rotates between running from point A to point B while mowing down everything in your path to fighting in an area and killing wave after wave of enemies until the exit unlocks. Once in a while, the game is broken up with small mini-games or special sequences. The run and gun portion plays well, hit detection is spot on and the game is surprisingly well balanced. The mini-games are of high quality and varied in nature. The weakest mini game of the bunch was the motorcycle game which involved possibly the slowest motorcycle chase in history. I love the fact they inserted these mini games as it provides a pleasant twist that most twin stick shooters lack.
The controls were spot on for the most part. The only issue I had was using the shotgun without automatic aiming. Since the shotgun is a slower firing weapon, it is best used with timed shots. However with manual aiming, I often found myself firing the first shot in the completely wrong direction. Overall, Lock ‘n’ Load provides incredibly solid gameplay that takes properly executed twin stick shooting and takes it to the next level with fun mini games.
Lock ‘n’ Load uses a cartoony visual style with cel shaded roots. Characters are brightly coloured, contrasting against dark scenery which really make characters pop on screen. There is great character design with unique looking enemies and loads of extra costumes if the yellow coveralls get boring. Each skin can be purchased for 150 in game dollars once all three hidden gifts of the corresponding level are found. The game looks great on the large iPad Retina screen and scales down well to the smaller iPhone 4 Retina display thanks to the cel shaded looks. Lock ‘n’ Load is a great looking game that will be a gem for owners iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches.
Lock ‘n’ Load is a stand out game for audio with a single weakness. Sound effects are top notch and the music is a pleasure to listen to. The guns have a punchy sound and the music is a great accompaniment to the symphony of gunfire. The most impressive thing with Lock ‘n’ Load is the fact it is fully voice acted. The voice acting is top notch for the exception of the main villain. For some reason her voice acting sounds like it was done by a 10 year old. Now if an actual 10 year old voiced this, I will be more forgiving, but considering the quality of voice acting in the rest of the game, the villain sticks out like a sore thumb.
The writing for the voice acting is impressive. At first I thought the game was laced with expletives and rated too low at age 13 and up until I listened closer. GameLab has managed to master the fine art of swearing without actually swearing. Similar to that picture of a man and a woman cavorting naked that is seen as six dolphins by young children, GameLab cleverly uses similar sounding words or just barely avoiding a curse word to trick the brain. Lock ‘n’ Load provides a high quality audio experience with fully voice acted characters, strong sound effects, and spot on music.
The most mind blowing thing about Lock ‘n’ Load is the price. For a game of this quality, $0.99 is an absolute steal. This game could easily go for $1.99 and still sell well. Lock ‘n’ Load provides superb graphics, an entertaining story, great audio, and most importantly top notch game play. This game is a must have to any iOS gamer’s library!