It’s only been a little more than year after the first Contract Killer hit the Play Store, and it’s just today we’re finally being greeted with the sequel — Contract Killer 2: Shadow Conspiracy. Glu Mobile is giving the latest iteration of their sniping title the Hollywood treatment, introducing an actual storyline, real voice acting, more weapons, better gameplay, and offering all of that without any entry fee (read: free).
The original Contract Killer was met with pretty good reviews, topping lists for many “best of 2011” Android apps. Needless to say, I was pretty jazzed to give CK2:SC a spin, looking to get my hands dirty and dive back into the world of contract killing.
Upon starting up CK2, you’ll notice the overhead maps level select from the original has been completely thrown out and honestly, I couldn’t be happier. Nothing was more frustrating than navigating that old cluttered map, hunting for the next mission. Now, players are presented with a much cleaner menu system where new stages are easily selected in an easy to view list. Choose the stage you want to shoot up, and you’re on your way.
Pretty much everything you loved about the original’s gameplay has remained intact, with a few new additions. Namely, melee and actual character movement. Okay, so I use “character movement loosely.” You technically don’t control your character in real time (as you would in Shadowgun for instance). Instead, some levels provide the player with pre-assigned markers that when tapped, will have the character take cover in that location in a 3rd person view. That’s pretty much the extent of character movement. While that may sound like a downer to some, it works well for what the game is: a casual shoot ’em up.
Melee combat involves taking cover near an enemy and if/when their back is facing you, a well timed button press has you performing a stealth kill. This not only awards the player with bonus points, but ensures that other enemies wont be alerted by your presence. Of course, there is always the option to move in, guns blazing. How you complete a mission is up to you — just make sure your contract doesn’t escape.
Once a mission has been successfully completed, you have an opportunity to spend the money earned on your contract to purchase new weapons and upgrades. But, for the really nice weapons, you’re gonna have to fork out Glu Credits which aren’t awarded as generously as virtual cash. Of course, Glu Credits can also be purchased using real money (you know, using your credit card) but this is mainly for those that don’t want a real challenge, and/or don’t want to work for the good stuff. In my short time with the CK2, I never managed to hit a Glu Credit wall where I could no longer advance unless I spent real money for extra credits. A refreshing change from your typical freemium title.
The production quality given to Contract Killer this time around is noticeably better than last time. Like a high-budget console game, there is now a more in depth storyline, voice acted dialog and cut scenes. Graphics however are a mixed bag. In the trailer for Contract Killer 2 (found on their Play Store listing) you’ll find the characters look detailed, with a good deal of normal mapping and shading special effects throughout. Only one problem: it only looks that good if you’re running it on a Tegra 3 device (like the Nexus 7). After downloading CK2 on my more than capable LG Optimus G, I was a little bummed to see something drastically different than what was shown in the trailer. Flat, blocky character models, looking more like a high-resolution PS2 title than a 360 game. In fact, I’d say the visuals are on the same level as the first Contract Killer which, isn’t terrible by any means, just different than what was advertised “on the box.”
Still, I would have loved to have seen a little more life added to levels. This is a shooter, and with semi and fully automatic weapons at your disposal, you’re gonna be shooting…. A LOT. Would have been nice to see things like cans flying through the air, cars blowing up with a few well placed shots, pots smashing to bits, birds being reduced to a pile of feathers — things like that. Semi-destructible environments are a must in game such as this. Have to admit it was a bit weird shooting a wall and not having so much as a bullet hole affirming my gun shots were doing damage.
Contract Killer 2: Shadow Conspiracy managed to take the solid first-person shooting you loved in the original, and spice it up with a few new tricks. It’s a worthy sequel that’s super easy to jump into, pop off a few rounds, then get back to workin’ in the real world. Don’t mistake this for heavy action 3rd-person shooters like Shadowgun — Contract Killer 2 a much more casual game that gives you the action you crave, without having to mess around with things like movement (who needs it). I found Contract Killer 2 highly enjoyable and I encourage everyone (except maybe the tikes) to download for themselves and give it go. You can find Contract Killer 2: Shadow Conspiracy for free right now in the Google Play Store.