Top Shot: The Game is a Facebook adaptation of the firearms-themed History Channel reality show. Players acquire a selection of heavy-duty weaponry and then take on the world in a series of target-shooting challenges in an attempt to discover who is the best marksman. The game was developed by Fifth Column Games, who also created the Facebook adaptation of the History Channel’s Pawn Stars show.
The game tasks players with building up an impressive gun collection and then using these weapons to complete various challenges. Acquiring firearms and taking on challenges rewards players with experience points and soft currency. Certain firearms are level-locked, requiring players to gain a specific number of experience levels before they can use it. Others may only be purchased with hard currency, making it highly likely that players will need to reach for their Facebook Credits to see the game’s full content. Hard currency is awarded on every level up, but at a very slow rate.
The gun challenges are mouse-controlled and unfold from a first-person perspective. Specific requirements for completing a challenge vary; sometimes players must simply shoot several static targets as quickly as possible, others they must accurately pick off moving targets. At the end of each sequence of challenges for a particular weapon is a “contestant challenge,” where players must beat a computer-controlled player at accomplishing a specific objective. There’s a missed opportunity for a synchronous, live multiplayer mode here, but this is something which could potentially be added in a future update.
Top Shot takes a more realistic approach to gunplay than many other shooting games. Players must rely on their weapon’s “iron sights” to pick off targets — there are no crosshairs to help them. Reloading is also a manual, interactive process rather than simply pressing a button — players must lower their weapon by pulling the mouse down and then load the ammunition into the gun in a realistic manner according to what kind of weapon it is. Revolvers, for example, must be loaded one bullet at a time and then the safety catch taken off, while cartridge-loading rifles are faster to reload but must then be cocked before firing again. Certain challenges have more targets than the gun can hold projectiles, meaning the player must manage their time effectively and get the hang of reloading specific weapons as quickly as possible. The controls are simple and responsive, but they are a little fiddly to use with a trackpad rather than a mouse, making the game not especially friendly to laptop or Magic Trackpad-equipped Mac users.
There is plenty of content for players to work their way through. Each weapon has at least one set of challenges in which to compete, and each individual challenge has its own leaderboard where players can compete against friends. There is also an in-depth awards system where players can earn badges for using specific types of weapons or those which come from a particular country. The game is designed as a means of educating players about different types of firearms as much as it is a shooting gallery game.
Social features include the aforementioned leaderboards and the ability to compare statistics with friends. As players level up and unlock awards, they also gain various different “titles” which they may choose to publicly display on their profile. Players are also given the opportunity to share the news of new firearm acquisitions and other achievements on their Timeline.
Top Shot is a great game. It looks and sounds good — though the background music is a little repetitive — and is accessible to those who haven’t seen the show as much as its most dedicated fans. Although the game is simply about shooting targets and balloons for the most part, there is enough variety in its challenges to keep players busy for a very long time. A generous amount of content is available for free, with monetization largely coming from a combination of an energy system and premium content. The Top Shot TV show team is also likely counting on the game to maintain interest in the show and get it the ratings it needs to secure a fifth season.
An excellent use of a TV show license, and a fun shooting gallery game in its own right.