Hands On With iPhone Multiplayer Shooter LiveFireS

Ngmoco's LiveFire, a multiplayer first-person shooter designed from the ground up for the iPhone, is a valiant attempt to bring the fast-paced genre to the portable, but still needs quite a bit of work.

When Ngmoco founder Neil Young handed over a playable build of LiveFire to me during GDC, he was sure to point out that the game was in the very early stages of development.

Later, when I asked a developer if it was beta, or alpha, he told me it wasn't anything yet. Too early even to be slotted into a specific stage.

The game uses virtual, and invisible, controllers. Players hold the iPhone sideways and glide their left thumb around that side of the screen to move. The right thumb is used to aim or look. Flicking the phone toward you makes the player jump. Double tapping the left side of the screen zooms in and double tapping the right side fires your weapon.

Running around in an empty level, the movements were surprisingly fluid and I was able to hit just about everything I aimed at despite the lack of a targeting reticule. (Something that could be added at a later date.)

Because the game had no targeting reticule, the screen was relatively clutter free, with only the gun taking up screen space.

I was able to check out both the chaingun and rocket launcher, both were problem free and I even managed to try and blast myself into the air with the rocket launcher... I failed.

The only issue I ran into with the game was using the flick movement to jump, which seemed to work only some times and also mad it impossible to see what was going on for a half second or so.

The big test, though, will be when the game is playable against other players. The graphics are rather bland, and weapons not unique, so the only thing that can sell this game at this point is robust multiplayer support. Something it promises to deliver.