Chillingo’s penchant for publishing dual-stick shooters returns with the release of Lock ‘n’ Load [$0.99], a content-rich title developed by GameLab that hits all the right notes for the genre. While a lot of that content is initially locked away a bit tighter than I’d like, the gameplay, visual-style and presentation make up for that setback, leading to a game well worth checking out for the dual-stick shooter crowd.

Lock ‘n’ Load puts you in the role of a hockey-mask wearing protagonist taking on an evil magic-wielding girl whose minions trampled his garden bed. As you can imagine, the tone of the game is very tongue-in-cheek and does a great job making fun of itself. While the story obviously takes a backseat to the gameplay, I still enjoyed it more than most other dual-stick shooters, including the twist at the completion of the main campaign. Still, what’s more important is content, and Lock ‘n’ Load certainly has a lot of enemies to throw at you.

You’ll be taking on those hordes of minions with your choice of three weapons (you’ll have to unlock two of them) through mostly standard DSS gameplay. I say mostly because Lock ‘n’ Load does a great job spicing up the gameplay with good plot pacing and a variety of mini games. You’ll do collection quests, first-person carnival shooting – even a Space Invaders-inspired stint. Of course, there’s also a ton of opportunities to simply mow down the mobs. A second, harder difficulty is also available, along with a second unlockable campaign (and challenge missions) that focuses more on gameplay than story.

Visually, Lock ‘n’ Load looks impressive with a wide variety of backdrops and character models. I was particularly impressed with the assortment of environments used across the campaign, each with their own graphical effects. In addition, the game runs at a good frame rate and looked exceptionally nice on my iPhone 4S. Relatedly, I thought Lock ‘n’ Load did a great job with its auditory aspects, with the music setting the mood appropriately and decent voiceovers accompanying the story cutscenes and combat. It did get a little annoying hearing your character repeat the same catchphrases over and over but in general I thought the voiceovers did much more good than harm.

One of my few complaints about Lock ‘n’ Load is the way it handles unlocks with its in-game currency. Every upgrade and unlockable requires cash, which can be randomly dropped by enemies while playing the campaign or purchased en masse via IAP. As is becoming custom, while you can earn a decent amount of cash through a campaign run it won’t be nearly enough to unlock all the content.

Unfortunately, I think the amount of cash dropped in-game should definitely be adjusted. I ran through the entire campaign (with several restarts on some missions) and didn’t even earn nearly enough cash to unlock the first tier of upgrades. When you include all the challenge levels, skins, and second story mode, players will end up having to rerun through completed levels many times before they can earn enough cash to unlock everything.

On top of all that, unlocks don’t appear to transfer between iOS devices (unless you have the all-encompassing ‘premium pass’) meaning that simply spending a few bucks on cash to unlock extras isn’t going to cut it if you want to play on multiple devices. Also worth mentioning is a crash bug that's affected some users. An update with a fix is already submitted, and in the meantime if this is affecting you turning on Airplane mode should work as a temporary fix.

Even if you have an adverse reaction to IAP, Lock ‘n’ Load still offers a decent amount of content with more that can be eventually unlocked (even if it takes a long time). When you combine that with the excellent visual style and content diversity, Lock ‘n’ Load becomes a highly recommended game. While we’ve had our share of good dual stick shooters, it’s rare to find one as well-rounded and content-rich (even if you have to unlock a lot of it). Gamers remotely interested in dual stick shooters owe it to themselves to check out this title.

TouchArcade Rating

  • himanshu modi

    So how necessary are the upgrades to completing the campaign? Can I experience all weapons and enemies without having to purchase in-game currency?

    • mreford

      Honestly, they're not necessary. I played through the whole campaign with no upgrades to my weapons and still survived with some restarts. They're more for just making the game easier.

  • Quickmix

    Funny Game, looks good!

  • Tanny Phillips

    What is a dual-stick shooter?

    • diemer

      Any game that uses one control stick to move, and another to shoot in the direction pointed. The term comes from the console world where you would use the analog sticks on the controller to accomplish this.

      Think Geometry Wars, Tilt to Live, Minigore, etc.

      • Nick

        You deserve an award for responding in such a kind manner. I saw the question Tammy posed and braced myself for her getting flamed, yet you provided a great and in depth explanation with examples.

        THANK YOU for not being an ass and lending proof to the existence of nice Internet people. Mayhaps there is hope for society after all....

        Well probably not but at least it's better than nothing 😉

      • Tyler Piderit

        You mean you never played iDracula? Huzzah!

      • TouchGamePlay

        You really believe that there are no new People to the iOS Community that joined after iDracula?

  • Tasty Poison Games

    Nice looking game! 

  • FreezeFrozen

    This game is just a clone of others. I bought it , may because of its attractive price, and 3d adventure game perspective,looking good on the screenshots.... No way!!! The character design is so awfull and is such a bad taste, I had to uninstall it quick before my iPad became contaminated.
    This is just 'junk' mc donald is junk food ( and i prefer junk food!)

  • Ivan Widjajamukti

    My money kept resetting everytime I reopen the game ......
    This game rly sucks

Lock 'n' Load Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 4