The Shoot is that simplest of creatures: the arcade lightgun game. If you’ve played any on-rails shooter in the past 20 years you’ll think you know what to expect, but The Shoot makes enough subtle additions to be worth a look even for jaded shooter fans.
Setting the scene with a brass James Bond-style theme, The Shoot’s first smart twist is its setting: you’re an actor in a range of TV shows and movies, with all the targets being cardboard cut-outs, puppets and animatronics and each stage being a different part of the film’s set. It’s a neat idea that keeps the action light and family-friendly, making this a good choice for families and youngsters wanting some blasting action.
Each of the five levels is a different movie, from robotic opener Robotamus Crime to underwater action romp Deep Peril, and there’s some good attention to detail throughout. Whichever movie you choose, you’ll be blasting your way through four stages, aiming to accumulate enough points to score a silver or gold medal and unlock the next movie.
The game’s main focus is on racking up a high score rather than simply finishing each stage. For every accurate shot your multiplier increases by one, with missed shots seeing it deplete, meaning you have to be choosy about your targets and have a sharp shot to do well. Rather than having a health meter, you have to make the director happy: taking hits will deplete his happiness, but you can restore it by pulling off accurate shots and cool set-pieces. It’s a nice system that means should you go through a tough stage you can still recover by playing well. Should his happiness reach rock bottom you lose a take, but this just restarts you in the same position rather than back at the start.
As your multipliers increase you unlock three special moves: slow-motion Showtime, self-explanatory Shockwave and the ultimate destruction tool Rampage. These shots are activated differently: shoot up in the air for Rampage or down at the floor for Shockwave, whereas Showtime asks you to spin on the spot or perform a lasso motion above your head to activate.
Whilst we never had issues pulling off Rampage or Shockwave, Showtime wasn’t quite as reliable when we used the required lasso motion: spinning around worked better, but is understandably less practical for many. At certain times you’ll need to dodge left or right or duck to avoid incoming fire, and this is done by leaning to one side or moving the controller downwards, the game responding quickly and accurately.
Motion controls aside, the other good news is that the pointer doesn’t suffer from the cursor drifting that has been problematic in previous Move shooters. Calibration is quick and straightforward, shooting two targets at the title screen, and should your pointer ever drift you can jump it back to the centre with a quick tap of O. There’s no need for recalibration, though this can be done from the main menu.
You’ll need to be accurate too as there are plenty of bonuses hidden in each level. Pieces of movie posters unlock extra minigames and bonus points are awarded for shooting treasure, but each level also houses a number of deleted scenes to be discovered. Rather than alternate routes, these are additional sections on the same path, such as enemies flooding a warehouse, exposing a hive and so on. Items that trigger such scenes are often highlighted in yellow, but you’ll still have to be a sharpshooter to find them all.
Although the design is usually decent, if not original, the spotlight moments are disappointing. These are crucial scenes to the success of your film and play out like mini boss encounters, but they’re all practically identical: avoid the objects being thrown, shoot when the shield is down and then shoot from the hip to dispatch it. Whether you’re battling a possessed Prom Queen or a tentacled sea creature, it’s always the same fight with a new coat of paint.
Disappointingly the career mode is single-player only, a mystifying decision when you consider other modes in the game the game support two-players. The option to shoot side-by-side with a buddy would have lifted this higher, and its absence is felt. Challenge mode is a good opportunity to team up though, with each scene offering five stars to be collected through racking up points and finding hidden items, and whilst these can be fun to play alone they’re better with a team mate.
You’ll have the career mode finished in a few hours, and going back to beat your best scores will keep you interested if you’re into that sort of thing, but with no alternate routes or real variation in gameplay you might find the appeal wearing off sooner rather than later. The minigames are a good attempt to extend the game’s lifespan, although the difficulty in finding the poster pieces might mean you spend longer unlocking them than actually playing them.
The game’s graphical style falls halfway between cartoon and stylised reality, and it’s clear the developers aimed to create a kid-friendly shooter, which they’ve accomplished admirably. Adults may get a kick out of the film references, but although the game’s put together with style it’s graphically simple, making the stuttering during big explosions disappointing. The loading times are also rather long: not as bad as TV Superstars, but that’s damning with faint praise, really.
Even moderately capable marksmen will breeze through The Shoot, repeated play making it even easier due to the lack of extra difficulty levels. Once you’ve done, you’ll go back a few times to compete with your best scores and find extra segments, and although the challenge mode and minigames make a good fist of extending the gameplay you’ll find The Shoot over too soon. Worth a go, particularly with a friend, but be warned it’s not going to last for ever.