Shortcomings deflate game's creative potential
Utilization of GPS encourages, hinders interactivity of 'CodeRunner'
In the James Bond-like iPhone adventure game, CodeRunner, the story utilizes GPS mechanisms to involve the player in their actual setting. Although this concept is refreshingly interesting, location complications give the game setbacks.
During the iPhone's five-year life span, we've seen game developers cover a lot of ground on the device. Games like Angry Birds and Canabalt have changed the foundation of modern game design on iOS.
It's rare, then, to see something fresh and original appear on the platform. CodeRunner, an adventure game that utilizes the iPhone's GPS function to have you explore real-world locations, is definitely refreshing, but its shortcomings are enough to bring down such an enticing concept.
I've been known to use hyperbole quite a bit, but I'm not exaggerating when I say that CodeRunner has one of the best openings of any game I've ever played. After an Orwellian intro video, the game cuts to a map screen. It takes a few seconds to realize that the game is displaying your real location.
After this startling realization, an urgent voice pipes in, telling the player that they need to get as far away from their current location as possible. It only takes about six seconds before you will realize that he means this literally. This means that if you start the game in your house, you will actually have to leave your house if you wish to progress in the game.
As you put some distance between you and your house, the voice will explain that you have been recruited as an agent for the government's "Department of Privacy," and that your first mission is to stop a phone hacker. From there, a story of espionage, dirty politics and treachery unfolds.
Before you start this game, you need to make sure that the environment you play it in is stuffed with shops, restaurants, ATMs, gas stations and the like. If you live near a shopping center, you're probably good to go.
If you don't live near a public area, though, the game could be a bit of struggle to get running right. I'd recommend driving to a crowded place before starting the game.
During the first half of the game or so, I was having a terrific time. The concept is fresh, the storyline is intriguing and the game ingeniously maps itself around your location, so, depending on where you play it, you could have a different experience, leading to the possibility for multiple play-throughs.
"The concept is fresh, the storyline is intriguing and the game ingeniously maps itself around your location, so, depending on where you play it, you could have a different experience, leading to the possibility for multiple play-throughs." --Mark Bennett, '14
The problem is that you probably won't want to play through it more than once. After the first hour, the novelty began to wear off and I started to notice more flaws in the game design. The last hour of the game has you tracking down taxi cabs and setting off EMP blasts, which, when you don't see any of these things in your real world, takes you out of the game.
Since the game randomly selects locations for you to visit, the game will sometimes ask you to visit a shady area. There is a button you can press to reset the mission location, but, once again, this takes you out of an otherwise realistic experience.
The game isn't all bad, though. The story, though cliche, is compelling and interesting, with enough cloak-and-dagger stuff to make you feel like you're living in a James Bond movie. It wraps up a little too quickly, with a final twist that seems to come out of nowhere, but otherwise, it's pretty well done.
The voice acting is fantastic, as well. Your agency handler delivers his lines with a nervous energy that pulled me into this world and, occasionally, made me laugh out loud, with lines like, "We've had our eye on you for a while, in a good way, not a Big Brother, secret police way, and don't bring that up; it's bad politics around here."
The game also features the ability for you to leave digital dead drops for other agents to pick up. I've left several dead drops in my area, but I've yet to see what kind of dead drops other agents leave, which is a bit disappointing, but your mileage may vary.
CodeRunner is a game that I want to see a sequel to. The game is fun and exciting, but it's dragged down by things that are severe enough to take you out of the game. It's hard to knock it too much, considering its $2 price tag, and I recommend that everyone with the means to play it do, just know that it wears out its welcome long before it ends.
For more technology reviews, read the Feb. 3 article, Kindle Fire: is it worth the price?