Suspect In Sight ($2.99), the first iOS game from Polish studio Jujubee doesn’t try to wow you with an engaging narrative or particularly deep gameplay. Rather, this arcade title attempts to hook you with a simple premise and the promise of progress. Unfortunately, control issues and uneven pacing disrupt both, leaving you with a game that has its entertaining moments but could have been better implemented on the whole.
Suspect In Sight certainly sounds interesting on paper: you take the role as a police helicopter patrolling the city for suspects with a searchlight in tow. Get close to the getaway vehicle and your light locks onto the car and alerts police vehicles to the scene. Your goal is to keep that light on the car until the pursuing police vehicle can smash into the suspect, earning you points and extending the perpetual timer which ends the game if it reaches zero. Take out all the cars in a wave, and the timer extends a little further and more suspects appear for the next wave. At the end of a run, you’re awarded experience based on how well you do. Earn enough and you’ll gain a level, unlocking new locations, vehicles and other bonuses.
You’ll be fighting crime with a bird’s eye view of three different cities, each with their own street layouts and unique landscapes. Overall, the change in scenery doesn’t offer much in terms of new objectives, but I guarantee you will appreciate the opportunity to simply play in a different setting (assuming you last long enough to unlock the other two cities). Visually, I wasn’t particularly impressed with Suspect In Sight, but the framerate was acceptable enough on latest generation iPhone and iPad devices.
While chasing suspects across cities can be amusing for a while, Suspect In Sight falters in variety. Other than eventually unlocking faster helicopters and two other venues, there’s very little in terms of objective variation. There’s no mission structure, simply the main race-against-the-clock mode. Eventually you do unlock minor variations, such as a mode that has you collecting gems as fast as possible, but these ancillary modes don’t even bother to reward experience, making them relatively useless.
I’m also disappointed in the lack of gameplay evolution. You don’t really encounter new barriers or vehicles to track down – you simply get more and more you need to track down per wave. Also, the pacing of the leveling system for unlocking new helicopters and venues means you’re going to be playing the same levels over and over for quite a while. This combined with the somewhat stagnant mechanics makes for an experience that is lacking.
The biggest issue I have with Suspect In Sight lies with its controls. Players are given the option of using either the accelerometer or virtual joystick to control your helicopter. Unfortunately, both simply feel sluggish and not as responsive as I’d like. Both control schemes also had significant issues with moving while turning at the same time, making locking onto a vehicle and keeping your searchlight on it a lot harder than it needed to be. Admittedly, some of these issues seem tied to your choice in helicopter, but considering that better vehicles aren’t available for some time, players will undoubtedly encounter frustration.
It’s a shame these issues exist in Suspect In Sight because I did have some fun racing against the clock catching criminals and trying to beat my previous scores. Unfortunately, there’s just too little in terms of actual gameplay to justify the amount of time you’ll spend grinding experience to unlock the other vehicles and locations (which, admittedly, make the game more enjoyable). The developers have stated in our forum that experience balancing and missions will be patched in at a later date. Those improvements would go a long way towards recommending Suspect In Sight, but as of now, that recommendation is a little hard to come by.