A flashlight and a stunning FPS game: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include a utility to give you a bit of light and a first person shooter that's probably the best yet in the iTunes app store.


I'm happy to announce I received my iPhone 4 in the mail today, five days before it was scheduled to arrive. After quite a bit of time spent transferring purchases, arranging apps, and checking the appropriate boxes in iTunes, I've activated and synced my new iPhone. Frankly, with a few reboots and trying to manage which apps should be synced and which shouldn't, the process hasn't gone as smoothly as I might have hoped. I even had a period of time where none of my apps would launch at all (gasp!). Fortunately, it's all sorted out.

Now that I'm up and running, I'm immediately noticing a significant speed boost, which is not saying much since I came from the iPhone 3G, but it is still a huge relief. Of course, the best part about upgrading is that I get to use apps I could previously test only on our in-house iPhone 4. Though I will continue to cover apps that work on most iPhones, this week I'm going to focus on a couple of apps that are perfect for your (and my) new iPhone 4.

This week's apps include a utility to give you a bit of light and a first person shooter that's probably the best yet in the iTunes app store.

Flashlight for iPhone 4
Not much to see here--just one button to turn it on and off--but it's very effective. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Flashlight for iPhone 4 (99 cents--iPhone 4 exclusively) might seem like a strange app to feature here, but more and more apps like this one are coming to the iTunes App Store that specifically take advantage of the new hardware. Though there have been many flashlight apps released in the App Store in the past (often turning your screen white for limited illumination), this app uses the LED flash on the back of your iPhone 4 as a light. The interface is dead simple: Flashlight for iPhone has exactly one button that turns your LED light on and off.

Flashlight for iPhone 4 is only one of many new apps that use the LED light on your iPhone 4 (most go for 99 cents, as well), but it seems to be the simplest "switch" for the hardware LED light. One problem I found is that the whole screen acts as the on and off button so you will probably accidentally turn your light off every now and then until you get used to it. Obviously, using the LED light continuously sucks up your charge, so use it sparingly. Even with these issues, just about anyone needs a good flashlight from time to time, and this one is both reliable and easy to use.

Archetype ($2.99) is a new multiplayer first-person shooter that demonstrates the power of the upgraded graphics on newer iPhones. Both 3GS and iPhone 4 users will be able to play this game. When you launch Archetype for the first time, you'll need to register a unique screen name to create your account, but that's it--no e-mail address or extra purchases required. Part of the marketing push for Archetype is that it's not a "freemium" title--you won't have to purchase power packs or spend any extra money at all on downloadable content. With Archetype, you pay only once and play as much as you want.

When you're feeling particularly skilled, you can switch to the axe for up-close combat. (Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

When I first started playing, I was blown away by the graphics quality--I even had to quit for a few moments and launch Eliminate Pro just to see if maybe it was my new iPhone 4 that made the difference visually. But no, Archetype is truly a visually stunning game that was optimized for the iPhone 4's Retina display, making me forget I was playing on an iPhone screen. Dual joysticks control movement and firing just like other touch-screen FPS games, and the HUD lets you know where your health and ammo levels are at a glance. You get six weapons and two grenades to choose from that you will find throughout the levels as you play.

It comes with only a couple of game types, including a training type of challenge mode and online multiplayer in which you can play five-on-five team death match games. Racking up kills online earns you experience and medals (and is a heck of a lot of fun), but not much else. We hope that later versions include more perks for gaining experience, like special items or outfits, for example, but it's hard to complain about a game that looks this good and is this much fun. Overall, if you want an online multiplayer game with beautiful graphics on the iPhone 4, plus challenging gameplay, Archetype is an excellent choice.

What's your favorite iPhone app? Did you have problems setting up your iPhone 4? Do you have a better flashlight app? What do think of Archetype's graphics and gameplay? Let me know in the comments!

About Jason Parker

Jason Parker has been at CNET for more than 13 years. He is the Senior Editor in charge iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.