It is not often that you see a clash of different generations on the App Store. So what happened earlier this month was pretty rare. We had a mobile game based on one of the most famous gaming franchises hit the App Store even as the world raved about another game, which was similar in format and yet so different.
We are talking of Square Enix’s Hitman: Sniper and Rolocule’s Dead Among Us.
Both games are sharpshooters. You are going to spend a lot of time peering down the telescopic sight of your weapons.
Both games start off with missions.
Both involve having to take down enemies from a distance (Hitman uses a rifle, Dead Among Us hands you a bow)
Both hand you rewards that you can spend on weapons upgrades.
And yet both are SO different (so much so that we used an all caps ‘so’).
In many ways Hitman: Sniper and Dead Among Us represent a clash of gaming generations and cultures. The former is unabashedly about high-class graphics and elaborate gameplay. The latter is about simple, direct sharpshooting. Both are shooters. But one is very casual in nature, the other would be shocked at being referred to in similar terms. And yet consider the evidence:
Hitman: Sniper comes with Rs 300 (about USD 4.99) price tag.
Dead Among Us is free.
Hitman: Sniper is a 300 MB download
Dead Among Us is slightly under 100 MB
Hitman: Sniper comes with elaborate gameplay and menus
Dead Among Us is pretty much pick up and play
Hitman: Sniper tries for realistic graphics
Dead Among Us looks more like something out of a comic book
There are ‘loading screens’ in Hitman:Sniper, leading to clear pauses between missions
Dead Among Us literally flies from mission to mission
No, we are not passing judgement on the quality of either game – both are tremendous fun. But each is likely to appeal to a different kind of gamer. And together they also reflect the massive change that has come about in gaming. A decade ago, gaming was very much the preserve of PCs and consoles. Games came on disks (expensive if you were the non-grey market types) and took hours and sometimes even weeks to finish. Today, more people play games on their handsets than on their computers or consoles. And the new generation of games is much smaller in size and is replete titles that can be “picked up, played and put down” as one developer put it.
Gaming in 2005 was about sitting in front of a computer in a room. Today, it is about sitting in an office, in a train, or in a lobby in between meetings and twiddling one’s thumbs on a screen rather than in the air. No, the consoles and PCs have not gone away. They are very much there, as anyone possessing an Alienware rig, an Xbox One or a PS4 will tell you. It is just that most gaming now happens on handsets, anything else is considered niche.
Which is why Hitman: Sniper for all the effort it puts in, seems to be like something from a computer. The detailed surroundings, elaborate shooting mechanisms and targeting and of course, the careful assembly of weapons are all in keeping with what we know of the anonymous barcode-on-his-head Agent 47, but is likely to seem tedious for a person who’s idea of a jolly good game is half an hour of Temple Run or a ten minute Stick Cricket slog. Such a person is more likely to gravitate to the simpler Dead Among Us, which is also about sharpshooting but has far less elaborate scenarios and if its simpler graphics do not stand up in comparison to those on Hitman: Sniper, they do have a comic book charm of their own.
Then there comes the killer difference – you would need at least ten to fifteen minutes to really come to grips with Hitman: Sniper, with its mission briefings, weapon detailing and the like, and would need a reasonably powerful device to run it smoothly. Dead Among Us can be mastered in four to five minutes, and ran well on the iPhone 5 and original iPad mini. Never was the difference between hardcore (or close to hardcore, as far as mobile platforms go) gaming and casual gaming more tellingly visible.
At the time of writing, both games are doing well. Each has its supporters. But we suspect those who like Hitman are those who are used to playing the bald assassin on a larger display, while those preferring taking out zombies from a distance are those who cut their gaming teeth on Cut the Rope. Both are a lot of fun, but in different ways. For different audiences.
Our advice: if you love PC gaming, go for the Sniper. If a casual experience is more to your liking, draw undead blood in Dead Among Us. Both games are a truckload of fun, but appeal to different sets of senses. As we said, they are similar. And are yet SO different.