Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner in Review – It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs

One of the more underpopulated genres in the App Store is still the augmented reality variety. Despite having been introduced shortly after release of the iPhone 3GS (almost a year and a half ago) it still features barely a handful of noteworthy titles. Nevertheless, slowly but surely it’s starting to pick up steam. In September, we saw an original proof of concept action-shooter title ARDefender (TMA Review). And just recently THQ released their own view on the concept with Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner.

In its core, Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner is more or less a standard shooting gallery title based upon the classic arcade machine. It puts you in charge of the Millenium Falcon’s guns as you play out some of the events of the original trilogy, including the legendary Kessel run. Fans of the movies are sure to enjoy quite a few cutscenes directly from the movies as well, adding to the atmosphere of the franchise.

If you’ve ever gone to the arcade you’ll recognize immediately what Falcon Gunner is. Remember those cabinets with guns positioned right in front? Well, it’s basically the same thing, but on your iDevice. The idea is simple: you have to destroy all incoming Imperial ships and any other junk obstructing your way (i.e. asteroids) before they destroy you. You do so by controlling the Millennium Falcon’s quad-laser turret. Currently the game offers you 3 stages with a little over 20 levels total with usually 3 waves of enemies in each.

To make playing Falcon Gunner a bit more rewarding and interesting, you are scored after the completion of each stage and awarded some credits that you can spend on upgrading the turret. Along with the basic stuff, like boosting the shield or enhancing the speed and power of your laser, you can buy some additional weapons to choose from, namely, the concussion missile (fire-and-forget missile) and tractor beam (catch the enemy fighters and hurl them at their own brethren). And if you’re very impatient you can buy the upgrades for hard cash – $0.99 for each. Finally, Falcon Gunner has GameCenter integration to allow you to challenge you friends’ high scores.

A unique option in Falcon Gunner is to turn on AR mode. This way, instead of having the blackness of space (and an occasional Death Star) as the background for your last stand, you’ll have the real world. While it does pose some challenges with enemies being harder to pin-point against a brighter background, it offers an unusual look at the genre and the Star Wars universe as a whole.

Graphically Falcon Gunner looks quite nice, with all our favourite loathed imperial fighters in full glory of the Retina display and cracks spreading across the Millenium Falcon’s turret HUD as you undergo attacks from the TIE fleet. Music features the classic Star Wars soundtrack with Han’s sly comments to keep you focused on your task. The controls offer the accelerometer or the gyroscope to choose from, with the latter available in AR mode and the former in the native game view. This is a bit odd since personally I would prefer to set my control scheme regardless of the game mode I’m playing.

If you’re a fan of Star Wars, you must check out Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner. To this moment it’s arguably one of the most atmospheric SW games ever, especially if played with the headphones and AR mode off (not to mention a 360° swivel chair). At the same time, the AR portion offers quite a unique gaming experience as well, allowing you to imagine what it would be like if the Empire tried to invade your own backyard. Regardless of your stance on the Star Wars franchise, Falcon gunner is an excellent shooting gallery-type game and a definite recommendation for any fans of the genre.

With this I declare Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner officially touched!

App Summary
Title: Star Wars Arcade: Falcon GunnerDeveloper: THQ Wireless Inc.
Reviewed Ver:1.0Min OS Req:4.1
Price:$2.99App Size:127.93MB
  • Original cutscenes, soundtrack and voiceovers
  • Fight the TIE fleet in your own backyard
  • Upgrade the legendary Millennium Falcon
  • No option to lock the control scheme to gyroscope or accelerometer

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