Our favorite free iPhone FPS games, precision shooters, twin-stick blasters, and vertically scrolling shoot ’em ups.
Shooty Quest finds a gruff retired hero drawn back into battle after some nasty folks steal his cat, burn down his house, and daub the ruins with a painted sigil. Subtle.
As the game’s name might suggest, the hero’s response to all this is to get a bit shooty. In each round, he stands in the middle of the screen, and you tap to fire your weapon at encroaching enemies. Cue: quite a lot of death and you only moving on to the next scene when all your foes are vanquished.
Longevity comes from weapon upgrades and enemies that require you to switch arms on the fly. The game becomes a frantic test of lightning fast timing and good aim, along with wondering whether rescuing a cat is really worth this much hassle.
EVIG is a vertically-scrolling shoot ’em up that takes no prisoners. It has just nine levels, but the twist is that if you’re hit by a single projectile, you must start the current level from scratch.
You might think this needlessly cruel - and, to tell the truth, it does test your patience at times. When you hit a new section of a level and are instantly vaporized by a new hazard, you’ll grit your teeth on realizing you must battle your way back to have another go.
Despite this, EVIG has a certain something that ensures you will want to try again. Perhaps it’s the smart level design or tight controls. Or maybe it’s just sheer bloody mindedness if you’re a certain kind of player. Either way, this iPhone game is entirely free, and so worth a shot to see if you’ve got what it takes.
InfiniBugs is a shooter with a decidedly retro bent. The basic gameplay of this free iPhone game resembles arcade classic Caterpillar, with worm-like aliens snaking down from the top of the screen. Blast one in the middle and it splits in two. All the while, you’re having to contend with skulls that appear on the spots anything was blasted, and more nimble individual crafts that flit about.
The chunky visuals and fast pace make for a hectic and claustrophobic experience. Every shot counts, given that the second you’re hit, it’s game over – something that becomes instantly apparent when you first encounter ship-smashing walls to blast through during bonus waves.
If you fancy something more forgiving, the one-off premium pack IAP opens up new modes, including one with a traditional three lives. But even for free, this is top-notch iPhone blasting action.
Kazarma is a shooter seemingly set on a neon-colored world’s longest – and worst-maintained – bridge. As you zip along, all manner of nasties are out to blow up your tiny ship. Naturally, your aim is to atomize them first.
Ultimately, it’s a modern take on Space Invaders, in 3D. You move left and right, avoiding neon death, and blast away at everything in your path. Over time, your enemies become more powerful and adept, keeping you on your toes – not least the extremely durable bosses.
On the easiest difficulty level, the game remains almost zen-like as you lazily use a single thumb to dish out wanton destruction. But ramp up the difficulty and Kazarma becomes a vicious, challenging shooter – especially when you grab a speed power-up and belt along like a maniac.
Yuseong comes off like someone has shoved an arcade machine from 1979 into your phone – albeit a machine with broken controls. The basic game resembles a cross between Asteroids and Space Invaders, with your ship obliterating space rocks before they hit the planet below. Too many strikes and you’re out; a single hit to your ship and it’s game over for you.
The twist is the aforementioned controls. Instead of a joystick and fire button, this is one-thumb fare, your ship shooting and switching direction when you prod the screen. Muscle memory goes out the window as you battle with this new minimalism, but what starts off seeming impossible and frustrating soon transforms into a smart, tight shooter once you understand its idiosyncrasies.
HELI 100 comes across like a hyper-casual take on a twin-stick arena shooter, albeit without the twin stick bit. You merely steer left and right, while your ship automatically targets and blasts away at enemies. It seems a bit dull. But hang on, because HELI 100 gets much better.
Something happens around level ten. Mostly, the game ramps everything up, and it becomes clear you’ve been trundling around on training wheels. You suddenly find the arena boundaries rapidly close in. You weave between bullet hell, making use of pick-ups that enable your craft to spew all manner of projectile death – or encase itself in a huge shield.
So give this one a chance – recognize the slightly dull early levels are primarily there to help you get to grips with HELI 100, and then prepare to have a blast.
Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs
Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs provides a new dimension on one of mobile’s biggest hits. As ever, you catapult deranged feathered missiles at rickety contraptions housing rotund green pigs. The aim: eradicate the pigs, and the structures they’re hiding in. Their shoddy construction – along with quite a lot of ill-advisedly stored TNT – helps.
Unlike previous Angry Birds efforts, this one’s AR-based. You set up a virtual 3D game on a table or the floor, and can investigate each level from every angle to figure out the optimum shot.
This adds freshness to a concept that has become tired since its 2009 iPhone debut. Here’s hoping Rovio can keep the momentum going with new levels – although the dozens you get make this a no-brainer download, given the game’s lack of a price tag.
Piffle is a shooter that has you blast away encroaching blocks, which are under the control of the nefarious Doc Block, and on landing will presumably do something terrible and evil. To keep them at bay, you lob strings of piffle balls – cat-like critters that bounce around while emitting endearingly cute meowing noises.
As the sort-of cats ricochet around, the numbers on the blocks drop until they’re finally destroyed. Rinse, repeat, and the world is saved. Only, things aren’t quite that simple due to tricky layouts that demand precision aiming, blocks that annoyingly duplicate or deflect your piffles in the wrong direction, and setups that demand you grab and master powerups to aid you in your task.
Fun stuff to dip into when you fancy some colorful, destructive action.
Fortnite is a massively multiplayer online ‘battle royale’. You’re dropped into a playfield with 100 other players, each aiming to be the last standing. To achieve that goal, you must explore your surroundings, find a dangerous weapon, and use it to do some serious violence.
This in itself isn’t unique – even on mobile. But Fortnite differentiates itself in key ways. It has a sense of humor – and a sense of style that isn’t dull military fare. Also, rather than just shooting things, Fortnite encouragers you to build, creating strategic defensive barriers.
The relatively complex controls are, naturally, a problem on iPhone, and can frustrate in the heat of a battle. For the most part, though, this is impressive and ambitious multiplayer gaming that makes your iPhone feel like a console.
Shadowgun Legends is a first-person shooter with swagger, which depicts you as a show-off gun for hire, partaking in a probably prescient mix of wiping out evil aliens and reality TV.
After arriving in the game’s hub, you immediately find yourself on missions, which mostly involve following fairly linear pathways, violently shooting everything that moves – and some things that don’t. Control mostly happens by way of two thumbs (movement and gaze), with the odd trip to special power-up buttons.
For anyone deep into the world of console shooters, Shadowgun Legends may feel stripped back and reductive, but you’d have to be a misery to not have fun blasting away, gradually working your way through dozens of missions. Just remember when your worryingly eager fans build a statue of your wonderful self to worship, they’ll ditch you the second their next hero comes along.
Darkside Lite is a visually stunning twin-stick shooter that has you protecting outer-space mining colonies under attack from aliens who’d rather humans weren’t messing up the place.
The tiny snag is the mining bit – the bases you patrol are surrounded by massive ship-smashing rocks slowly ambling about. In classic Asteroids-style, you must make short work of them, while ensuring you don’t get blown to pieces by alien foes.
It’s a dizzying, thrilling ride as you zoom over the planetoids, dodging installations, blasting space rocks, and taking out UFOs coming in for the kill. Should you hanker for more, additional modes (and handy smart bombs) are available in the full Darkside game.
Smash Hit is a 3D on-rails shooter, seemingly aimed at people who really like smashing things. You float in ghostly fashion through its various scenes, hurling your limited cache of metal balls at glass objects minding their own business, or huge panes of glass that rather unwisely block your path.
Initially, you’ll fling balls with merry abandon, but you soon realize getting deep into the game requires a solid aim and sparing use of ammo – not least when the camera starts to spin and the shots become increasingly tough. You’ll need to be a pretty hardcore smasher and a crack shot to reach the end – although you can ease the journey by way of a one-off IAP that unlocks checkpoints.
Time Locker is a vertically scrolling shoot ’em up with a twist: when you stop, time stops. This means that although you’re often weaving between bullet hell and blowing up swarms of enemies, you at least get the chance to think for a bit and consider your next move.
That said, Time Locker doesn’t make things too easy: hang around and a relentless world-consuming darkness gobbles up your craft. This means although you can pause for a bit, you must remain on the move, utilizing power-ups to zoom ahead wherever possible.
It’s a unique, engaging shooter, and its distinctive nature is further cemented by its vibrant low-poly world, which at any moment may see you attacked by gigantic tanks, dinosaur herds, or deadly waddling penguins.