9 Best Shooters on the iPhone

From arcade classics like Space Invaders to first-person shooters like Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies, here are nine of the greatest shooters available on the iPhone today.

Best Shooters

From arcade classics like Space Invaders to first-person shooters like Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies, here are nine of the greatest shooters available on the iPhone today.

It's important to note that this is not a list ranked in order of quality; this list is in alphabetical order. We have taken an extra step in helping to get these games to you painlessly, so we've linked each game to their respective pages in the iTunes store. All you have to do is click the name and your browser will (probably) ask you for permission to launch iTunes, and once you agree you'll be right at the game's page on iTunes. Be sure to also read our list of the best strategy games on the iPhone.

Alive 4-Ever

Zombie games come a dime a dozen on the App Store, but few stand out as truly great games. Alive 4-Ever avoids falling in with the many other mediocre releases in its genre through its application of an excellent control scheme, a fun upgrade system, and a surplus of content to keep players happy for a long time. The game is set in (naturally) a post-apocalyptic world that has been ravaged by the undead. As one of several unique special forces characters, your goal is to drop in, rescue some survivors, collect vaccine samples, and kill a ton of zombies. The game is split up into three modes: survival, horde, and story. Survival mode and horde mode aren't actually all that different, as they both require you to stay alive as long as possible while fending off a never-ending zombie attack. Horde mode differs from survival mode in that it breaks up its action into multiple objective-based rounds.

The real meat of Alive 4-Ever is the story mode, which is separated into 30 different levels, each of which gives players a goal along with an optional "challenge objective" which can be completed for extra experience points. Players will level up based on the number of zombies they kill or missions they complete in story mode, and various stats and weapons can be purchased with the "ability points" and money that is earned with each level gained. If you're going to buy Alive 4-Ever, make sure to convince a friend to do the same, as wi-fi/bluetooth multiplayer is just too much fun to pass up.

Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies

The "Nazi Zombie" mode in the console versions of Call of Duty: World at War got a lot of love from gamers, eventually becoming more talked-about than World at War's core deathmatch multiplayer. When the mode showed up in its complete form as its own separate game on the App Store in min-November of 2009, response was strong and the game quickly reached the top of iTunes' top-grossing charts. The game only comes with one map (Nacht der Untoten from the console release) but Activision has promised more maps as in-game DLC in the future.

Those unfamiliar with the iPhone's graphical capabilities will likely be concerned about how the game holds up on the small screen, but their concerns are largely invalid. The game looks and plays great, and is commonly used as a showpiece of what the iPhone can pull off. There are three control options, but we recommend the tilt-based control scheme, which designates movement to an onscreen thumbstick and allows aiming to be handled by the iPhone's highly accurate accelerometer. The game is a bit difficult to get a handle on at first, but with a little practice most players will be able to consistently pull off headshots in no time.

Eliminate Pro

With releases like Rolando, Topple, Dr. Awesome, Star Defense, and Touch Pets Dogs, ngmoco inc. have firmly established themselves as premier App Store developers. Their exploration of the "free-to-play, pay-to-play-more" model has carried over into several of their games, but Eliminate Pro was one of the first to do it effectively. Eliminate is a free online FPS with RPG elements. The catch is, it's only possible to play about four matches in a row before running out of "energy." Players can either wait for their energy to recharge (which takes hours) or pay actual money for a supply of energy tanks that will last them a good while.

Pricing model aside, Eliminate Pro is actually an interesting game based on its merit as an FPS. The controls work quite well after a bit of getting used to, and the upgrade system (which works similarly to the system found in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare games) adds an addictive element to the game. Ngmoco has been consistently releasing new maps for the game via free updates, and more updates will be coming in the future, so we give them kudos for supporting their game and keeping it fresh for early customers. It's hard not to recommend a high-quality, free game, so FPS fans should definitely download Eliminate and see if it's their cup of tea.

geoFighter - Light Wars

To call geoFighter a shameless rip-off of Geometry Wars wouldn't be entirely inaccurate, but it does do several things differently from Xbox Live's killer app. For one, there is a weapon upgrade system in place here that feels quite similar to those found in many vertical shooters. Further, bullets bounce off of walls for a short distance and some enemies are designed to be vulnerable only from the back, so it feels like there's a bit more strategy and skill involved in geoFighter than its faster-paced, oh-so-similar console sibling.

Collectable powerups will consume much of your attention while playing geoFighter, as their acquisition is crucial for survival in later stages of the game's survival and wave modes. There are four different weapons that can be found within a game, and each can be upgraded up to three times (also by enemy-dropped powerups). One particularly interesting and unique feature of geoFighter is that it allows players to freeze the game and switch between any of their weapons at any point by touching on the bottom part of the screen. geoFighter takes its gameplay style from Geometry Wars and makes it portable, and for only $1 the game is a highly recommendable purchase.

Guerrilla Bob

Guerrilla Bob is a level-based dual-stick shooter with a great 3D visual style that got a lot of hype amongst iPhone gaming communities leading up to its release, and although it wasn't the holy savior of apps that Chillingo had promised, the game does deliver an ample amount of fun. After playing dozens of dual-stick shooters based entirely around what essentially amounts to a survival mode (which Guerrilla Bob also offers) it's refreshing to play through this game's story mode, in which the goal is to walk Guerrilla Bob through various vertically scrolling levels while blasting away at everything in sight to get to the level exit.

Big boss enemies end each level with a bang, and taking them out with upgraded weapons (often found in hidden areas throughout the levels) is extremely entertaining. The machine gun is a fun basic weapon, but the flamethrower and grenade launcher really provide some thrills. Guerrilla Bob might not quite be a console-quality romp, but it's good for a playthrough and as a pick-up-and-play game for its survival mode.

Meteor Blitz

Fans of PSN's Super Stardust HD will find Meteor Blitz to be eerily familiar in the best possible way. The game is all about blowing up asteroids, and it utilizes an interesting rock-paper-scissors mechanic to mix things up. As the player, you'll have to switch between your plasma cannon, ice cannon, and flamethrower to respond in kind to unique situations and differing asteroid types, adding a layer of complexity to the game that demands quick thinking. Points earned from destroying asteroids can be spent on weapon upgrades in between levels, creating incentive to keep playing and rewarding players who play well.

The game does a couple things aside from the weapon balancing mechanic to separate itself from the crowded pack of dual-stick shooters on the App Store, and that's what makes it worthy of a spot on this list. Players have access to a gravity gun which they can use to fling around asteroids to destroy other asteroids or enemies, and bombs clear the screen of obstacles Geometry Wars style. Taking both thumbs off the game's virtual sticks will automatically pause the game, an innovative feature that bears the hallmark of a truly creative developer.


Minigore is a dual-stick shooter starring a troubled man named John Gore. John has somehow gotten himself trapped in a forest arena, and he's being pummeled by a constant barrage of strange creatures called furries (not the kind of furries you're thinking of). John is voiced by self-made internet star Egoraptor, and as such regularly shouts out humorous observations. The game is noteworthy for its dark sense of humor and epic soundtrack.

If there was ever a game that received post-launch attention and content addition via updates, it's Minigore. Weapon pickups, faster, flaming furries, and changes to the game's difficulty have been changed over time. Shotguns and grenade launchers were added in an update, and they can be upgraded by simply surviving for longer and finding more weapons. Character crossovers with the stars of other iPhone games was started with the inclusion of Enviro-Bear from Enviro-Bear 3000, and other characters like Lizzy from Sway and the Hook Champ have eventually found their way into Minigore's desolate forest. Minigore is not the most in-depth dual-stick shooter on any platform, but there's something about it that keeps us coming back for more.

N.O.V.A. - Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance

It's nearly impossible to write about N.O.V.A. without making comparisons to Halo. From the all-too-familiar shotgun, sniper rifle, and assault rifles to the warthog jeep in which one turret mission takes place, Gameloft really isn't even pretending to be making a unique game with this one. They even had the gall to stick a blue A.I. lady named "Yelina" in the main character's armor to give instructions to players.

Don't get me wrong; N.O.V.A. is a joy to play. The slide-to-shoot controls work quite well for their purpose, and the game's five-hour campaign feels fresh straight through to the end. A good combination of mini-games and unique environments (especially in the later parts of the game, where things are taken in a decidedly Metriod-esque direction) make N.O.V.A. well worth its price-tag. There is four-player online multiplayer, but a problem with cheaters and controls not well-suited to the environments make that a part of the game that you're better off ignoring.

Space Invaders: Infinity Gene

Retro revivals have been all the rage lately, and Space Invaders: Infinity Gene establishes itself as another successful remake. Like Pac-Man Championship Edition before it, Space Invaders: Infinity Gene embraces technical advances made over the course of the last several decades and laces its still-classic gameplay with visual flourishes and style. As a rethinking of one of the most popular games of all time, Infinity Gene had a lot to live up to, but we're happy to report that it more than meets expectations.

Interstingly, the longer a game of Infinity Gene lasts, the more modern the game's graphics become, slowly transforming into a hyper-technological techno-inspired world that eventually bears more resemblance to Rez HD than the original Space Invaders. Integrated online leaderboards incentivize competition and add replay value, so Infinity Gene is unlikely to be a purchase you'll regret.