Though you will find a staggering quantity of first-person shooters occupying the shelves of game stores and pages of Amazon.com for various consoles, the pickings are noticeably slimmer in the world of flash.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t some top-quality shooting games out there, because there are titles like Dead Zed and Clear Vision that have spawned some memorable shoot-em-up sagas. If you were to ask a fairly experienced flash-based first-person shooter fan however, you’d likely hear one series’ praises sung a little louder than others, and this series is Sift Heads.
This isn’t a casual few games in a trilogy or duo though: Sift Heads is a long-running saga with many strings to its bow. You’ve got Sift Heads Cartels and Sift Heads World giving fans a different perspective on the stylish shoot-em-up core of the game, but where it all started is the original Sift Heads series, and you’ll not find a better first-person shooter game than Sift Heads 4: Vinnie’s Paradise.
Sniping would technically be the genre that this game falls more comfortably into, but because of the content (mainly the arsenal of weapons available for purchase), the game is more akin to a first-person shooter with heavy sniping elements. The gameplay takes the form of any classic sniping game such as DP Flashes‘ sublime Clear Vision games in that you are presented with a variety of levels that involve assassinating targets specified in each level’s objectives, all in a first-person perspective with weapons of your choosing, provided you have earned enough money to purchase them first.
The game is a largely mouse-operated affair with said implement allowing you to aim the crosshair, its left button allowing you to shoot, and the spacebar to switch between your weapons (you can have two weapons to switch between in any one mission).
Furthering your progress in each of the missions is firstly the objectives section, which gives you hints about the targets in each level and also a few suggestions on the way that you can get each level completed. Some levels involve straight-up headshots and blatant shooting, while others require a little more finesse such as shooting out the middle of a bridge to make the hit look like an accident, or even clearing innocent bystanders (aka witnesses) out of the area so the kill can take place in private; the difficulty of the mission is directly related to the amount of cash you receive for completing it (more difficult, more cash).
The second helping hand you get with the missions is the healthy arsenal of guns that you can purchase with the money you earn from each of the missions. You can only purchase a Beretta with your initial cash, but will soon be able to afford a Desert Eagle, Glock, AK47, Dragunov Rifle, and many more.
Sift Heads 4 differs from other games of the saga in that there isn’t that much of an interconnecting or overarching storyline, instead opting for a straight-up mission-by-mission shoot-off that gives you instant rewards and quick progression through weapons and enemies. The missions are challenging but not overly so, the guns are reasonably priced and match the amount you are paid, and there are quite a few missions to play through so you won’t be finished before you have the chance to enjoy Sift Heads’ unique and stylish brand of shooting entertainment.
It is in this stylishness that the game stands out from other more basic stickman-based shooters such as Sniper Assassin from Gonzo Games. Sift Heads has always had a sort of film noir feel to it, a little like the film Sin City only with a little more self-reference and tongue-in-cheek cut-scenes. The sounds are also quite impressive as well, showing the attention to detail that developers Pyrozen Games have displayed in developing this game. Sift Head is probably one of the best sniper games out there whose only drawback is its relative simplicity and lack of storyline that other series of the same name possess.