Reader, your country needs you. Enemies are at large in town and country. Your mission: to sprint through a range of danger-filled terrains, dodging oil spills, fallen trees, fiery lava, crazed truck drivers and more, and destroy as many villainous bases as you can. See Best Android apps.
You play Agent Dash, a Secret Agent with a ton of upgradable spy gadgets up his sleeve. You can blast through levels with a jetpack, drop into enemy bases using a parachute, enter a slow-motion mode to give you crucial extra thinking time and use magnets to help you collect the diamonds that will pay for way through this unfriendly world. See Android Advisor.
The controls couldn't be more intuitive on a touchscreen tablet or smartphone. You swipe up to jump, down to slide, to the left or right to go, well, left or right, and tap to shoot. You can upgrade your gun and your agent, customise your outfit, call in support from a backup agent and buy extra lives.
The gameplay is very smooth, with no lag on our Sony Xperia P, but fast: you'll need to keep your wits about you, since a momentary distraction will result in almost certain death.
And that's all too common a theme in Agent Dash, in which we struggled to get past even the first enemy base. For hardcore Secret Agents, Dash, Joanna Goodtug, Jawbone and Bobajob die far too easily, from falling off a bridge into the ocean or lava, crashing into oil barrels strewn across the road, running into closing doors to, no joke, stubbing their toe on a bend in the road. They'll jump around a bit in pain, but ultimately it's game over. And then you'll need to start over, unless you pay for an air drop to the enemy base.
But this untimely death isn't necessarily a bad thing, since the steep difficulty curve (and the fact that we're just not very good at it) adds replay value, while the frustration experienced makes Agent Dash incredibly addictive. It's a great time-waster for those dawdling moments that aren't quite long enough to get your teeth into any other type of game.
Also adding longevity to the game is a list of objectives, ranging from easy challenges such as scoring 25,000 points, using an extra life and dying 50 times (we had that one nailed), to more difficult tasks such as destroying 250 villain bases. Agent Dash is clearly going to take us forever to complete.
There are 50 objectives in total, and each successfully completed task increases your multiplier bonus by 1 percent, in turn making it easier to accomplish the score-based challenges. You can also link the game to your Facebook account to challenge your Facebook friends, and there are bonuses for becoming 'Top Agent'.
The beauty of this game is that although it is possible to buy extra diamonds (at the time of writing, Full Fat was offering 5,000 for 69p, 15,000 for £1.49, plus other bundles), you really don't need to. You can collect diamonds throughout each level, and purchase one-time boosts that allow you to scoop higher-value gems. And there are no distracting ads in the Android version, which are typically the curse of free downloads.
Some of the one-time boosts might seem expensive - the extra life is 1,250 diamonds for example, but you're offered streak discounts for subsequent usage. For example, we paid 500 diamonds for an air drop to the first enemy base, but just 25 thereafter.
Handy gameplay hints are offered in the loading screens, although they did little to improve our poor performance. Nevertheless, Agent Dash is sufficiently entertaining that we will keep playing, and eventually become Top Agent. Watch this space.
Agent Dash: Specs
- Android 2.3.3 or later
- 24MB storage
- Android 2.3.3 or later
- 24MB storage
Agent Dash is simple but intensely difficult, repetitive but addictive. It's everything you want from a smartphone game, and it's free (on Android, at least).