That’s not even a joke. Most missions are incredibly brief, with one even having a bonus objective to be completed in under half a minute, but this also leads to what makes Cover Fire such a better mobile shooter than certain other experiences. Namely, Cover Fire does away with manual movement and lengthy levels entirely, and contrary to what you’d expect, this is what makes it all click. You automatically move from cover to cover as each chest high wall is worn down, and all of your control inputs are devoted to aiming and shooting. Instead of long missions with even longer loading times, you play through chunks of each scenario from different points of view. The aiming is refined enough that you can pull off headshots without feeling like the auto-aim system is doing all the work for you, which was a welcome surprise. Enemies aren’t particularly smart, but they do pepper you with a steady stream of bullets and will try to flank you if you don’t act quickly. The result is that Cover Fire captures the essence of Gears of War without straining the platform’s inputs or its processing power. In fact, the frame rate was far steadier than I expected, and loading times were pleasantly timely.

It’s also worth noting that someone on Cover Fire‘s dev team actually understands that you have ears, and put genuine effort into the game’s sound design. While the narrative and limited voice overs are nothing to write home about, the game’s soundtrack and sound effects are solid. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but Cover Fire‘s sound design gets you into the heat of the moment, selling the experience. They even included a Sniper Elitestyle slow-motion kill cam for your final target at the end of each section, giving a satisfying parting gift to your corporate oppressors. The ragdoll physics that accompanies this tends to behave peculiarly, but at least in an amusing way and it doesn’t detract from the experience. Otherwise, the animation work here is pretty great as well. You can tell developer Genera Games worried about making the game enjoyable first before integrating the game’s freemium elements, which are remarkably conservative.

While there are a fair bit of equipment, temporary boosts, upgrades, and alternate teammates to unlock, your starting heroes are all fairly capable and can slowly be improved through various stats. Unfortunately, the game relies on random lootboxes giving you upgrade points rather haphazardly. The one upside to this is that getting all three stars in a mission guarantees four out of five lootboxes to unlock. Most of the bonus objectives I was given were all fairly reasonable, save for one mission that wanted an absurd level of precision with a rocket launcher I doubt anyone will ever bother with because it’s a rocket launcher. There is an energy charge system, but it’s devoted to replaying previous missions, not beating new missions, so it’s not nearly as intrusive. There’s also no multiplayer component to speak of, so you can enjoy Cover Fire whether you have WiFi or not.

The reason Cover Fire is so sharply built because it knows what it needs to be and does the utmost to be the best that is, even if that’s a generic third-person shooter.

To be quite honest, I struggle to think of a real downside to Cover Fire. It doesn’t have a lot to say and it’s not going to redefine the shooter genre, but as mobile shooters go, it is competently constructed and highly polished. The reason Cover Fire is so sharply built because it knows what it needs to be and does the utmost to be the best that is, even if that’s a generic third-person shooter. So, if you need an action game you can take on the go, you could definitely do worse. It’s also free, so why not at least give it a try?

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