* * EPOCH 2 * *
Greetings, human. Have you ever desired to live a life of wire and electricity rather than one of vein and blood? The futuristic, third-person shooter, Epoch 2, is here to help you experience that fantasy, so sit back, relax, and let the wants of flesh and bone leave you.
All right, creepy, AI-shtick aside, let's talk Epoch 2. The sequel to the unsurprisingly-named Epoch puts you in control of the eponymous robot as he travels around the rather dingy-looking future looking for power cores in the hopes of reviving his buddy from cryo-sleep. The plot's pretty threadbare, and the writing's not exactly inspiring, but it does the job of framing the gameplay well enough.
Each mission pits you against a series of aggressive enemy robots, each with their own quirks and abilities. Some fire rapidly, forcing you to stay hidden behind cover until an opening presents itself; others use charged weapons which deal damage to you through cover, forcing you to get a move on. There's a pretty decent variety to the enemies, helping keep things fresh even when you're fighting the umpteenth wave of foes on any given mission. Epoch isn't without his own arsenal, however. You've got a machine gun, grenades, power weapons, and even a time-dilating focus mode to allow you to make some precision attacks. The power weapons and grenades are basically one-tap kills, and feel shallow. Your primary armament has unlimited ammo, and you have the option of either reloading automatically or reloading via a timed reload minigame a la Gears of War.
But don't let the large arsenal and enemy variety fool you — Epoch 2 is far from perfect. The enemies, though disparate, are little more than brain-dead targets for you to tap until they die. There's just not much that's satisfying about the gunplay here, and perhaps much of that dissatisfaction stems from the controls, which are twitchier than a cracked-out Chihuahua. You'll change cover when you meant to shoot, melee when you wanted to change targets, and generally spend a lot of time fiddling with things when you'd rather be playing. This isn't to say that the controls are unresponsive; merely unintuitive. A simpler control scheme may have been the answer, but then the game would feel even more shallow that it already does, so perhaps not.
The scrapyard -- a combination shop/armory -- offers tons of customization options, but the differences between most items are negligible; you'll spend your money for what feels like a sideways improvement. As is standard with most iOS games, you can spend real money to acquire additional in-game credits. However, Epoch 2 takes this practice to odious new heights, allowing you to spend up to $50 in exchange for the largest sum of money available — which isn't enough to even get one of the game's most expensive items, let alone all of them.
Should someone desire to power their way through this shooter using their credit card they'd likely spend close to a grand, and at that point Epoch 2 seems like less of a game and more of a way for you to empty your bank account. Despite its flaws, though, Epoch 2 has plenty to offer. Lots of missions, lots of replay value, and lots of loot to unlock. Its twitchy controls, shallow gameplay, and brutally greedy in-game shop, however, detract from what could have otherwise been a solid gaming experience.