Panda: Tactical Sniper 2
Prepare to join the elite, the bravest, the fuzzy-wuzziest squad on the planet. That's right. The call has gone out to you to join… the PANDA. National Geographic would have you believe Pandas are the teddy bears of the Orient, and all they really want is to be left alone on a misty mountaintop somewhere to eat bamboo and occasionally be the subject of a cute YouTube video. This, in fact, is a lie, since everyone knows that what pandas really want are diamonds.
See, here's the scoop, but keep it on the DL. Panda: Tactical Sniper 2 from Robotjam, has you act as the newest hired gun to join Panda's ranks. Panda's one smart teddy, and he only wants the best. Not only are you going to have to help Panda rescue his friends—THE MAN has them wrongfully imprisoned—but you'll need to get some sweet wheels, among other things, before you're ready for the big time. And Panda's got plans for you. He's one smoooooth—
Shut your mouth!
I'm just talkin' 'bout Panda.
Controls couldn't be simpler. You use your mouse to navigate around the scene, and click the mouse button to fire. Shortly after starting the game, you're given the ability to radio Panda (by clicking on the walkie-talkie icon in the corner) and let him know when it's safe to move forward. You can also get various achievements and power ups, such as being able to press the space bar to reveal the entire screen temporarily, rather than just looking through your scope. None of the abilities I unlocked ever really made a huge difference for me in the game, but if you like having a twinkling row of virtual medals staring back at you, then Panda: Tactical Sniper 2 will deliver.
Analysis: In this game, you're not actually expected to snipe people, which makes for a surprising change from other games that have you staring down the scope of a rifle. If you're like me, your first instinct is going to ventilate the face of the first security guard you see, but surprisingly this won't fly. It seems Panda doesn't condone mindless violence, so you're going to have to think outside the box of bullets and shoot other objects in your environment to achieve your goals. You might need to shoot down a ladder for one of your companions to scale, or use a few careful shots to disable a security system.
Time is only a factor on a few levels, so for the most part you can take it slow and puzzle out what you need to do. There's no penalty for restarting a level, and in fact failure usually results in a little hint for what you should have done. Fortunately, none of the puzzles are overly complicated or require some sort of otherworldly logic to complete, and after a few cursory shots you'll probably be able to figure things out. The downside is there's only ever one way to complete your goals, and the storyline is barely there.
Panda 2 is a very friendly-looking, cheery little sniping game. The bright, simple graphics actually remind me a lot of those old Playskool building sets. Only with more bullets. And, um, Pandas. If you're looking for a quick way to spend your lunch break and further the cause of Panda's need to have really, really big diamonds—something sorely neglected by the World Wildlife Foundation—then this is the game for you. It's a quirky concept that will appeal more to fans of puzzle games than shooters, especially given the perky aesthetic, but it's definitely worth a look.
Thanks to Rob for suggesting this game!