AirAttack in Review – Step Aside JetBlue

I love shmups (shoot ‘em ups), though I’m not keen on that nickname. There have actually been some pretty sharp shooters on the iPhone, but I still hadn’t found that one yet that I could constantly refer back to, much like I used to do with Claygun when writing about Pocket PC shmups. The time has finally arrived, however, for a game to take that place of honor, and that game is AirAttack. No game is perfect, but this is certainly the most well rounded, enjoyable shmup experience I’ve had on my iPod Touch to date.

Before you even really get into the game play you’ll notice how stunning the game looks. The landscape is beautiful, the buildings look great, and the vehicles are well designed. Blow up a tower and watch it fall into the water – and then realize that you can see the legs of the tower’s base descending below the water line. The special effects are pretty slick as well. Certain vehicles crumble into hot ashes, and everything looks nifty as it’s blowing up. The only thing I haven’t been completely impressed with yet are the weather effects, but I’m willing to let that slide for all the other graphical goodness.

Next you’ll need to take in the music. I do want to interrupt myself for a minute to point out that the sound effects aren’t bad. They do tend to get dwarfed by the music, however, and that’s perfectly fine with me. The music is of such a grand caliber that if you closed your eyes you might feel like you’re actually in the middle of an epic war movie. There are different tracks as you progress through the game, and all of them that I’ve heard are well written and quite engaging.  This is the way music for this type of video game should be.

But isn’t it true that many games which look good and sound good don’t play well? Yes, but fortunately AirAttack isn’t one of them. In some ways it plays like a very standard shooter. Fly your craft through several levels, blowing away everything in sight and defeating the big boss at the end of the level. It’s the balance that makes the game so charming.  There are a lot of enemies, and there is certainly a substantial amount of ammunition flying, but they don’t resort to bullet hell to make the game challenging. They just make sure that the bad guys take several hits to kill, or that while you’re concentrating on one side of the screen, there’s something shooting at you on the other. Simple but effective mechanics, yet at the same time a lot more enjoyable than just throwing bullets everywhere. Even the bosses are entertaining, because while they’re tough, you actually feel like you stand a chance against them.

So how about upgrades? Your main cannon can be upgraded to a dual and then triple shot, with each level having multiple strengths. You can buy ships to fly at your side and missiles that automatically fire at certain intervals, targeting the closest enemies. If you want to get a little more ritzy, buy a weapon that lets you shoot lightening bolts or a device that lets you warp time for a couple of seconds so you can outrun the enemy. While there’s nothing particularly out of the ordinary, there are a wide variety of options to choose from and the choices are all cool.

The more I play this game the more I’m convinced it’s the shmup to beat for the iPhone. There’s never a dull moment to be had during the game, and even when you’re crashin’ and burnin’ you have every desire to give it another go. I’ll admit there are a couple of shooters I haven’t been able to try because I’m still on a second generation iPod Touch, but that’s even another reason to be amazed by this game. It runs flawlessly on mine. There may be a few little nit-picks here and there, but this is the closest thing to shmup perfection you’re going to find on your iDevice right now.

App Summary
Title: AirAttack Developer: Art In Games s.r.o.
Reviewed Ver: 1.0 Min OS Req: 3.1.3
Price: $0.99 App Size: 43.8 MB
  • Time tested game play
  • Lots of power ups
  • Stunning graphics
  • Epic audio
  • All shmups aren’t like this


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