Upgrades add style to Sky Combat iPhone game

Feb 25, 2011
Games

Sky Combat mixes strong visuals with solid top-down shooter gameplay, making for a great gaming experience. Traditionally, air combat shooting games have lived or died by the strength of the AI. That is to say, a game where you fly around shooting things without the threat of actually losing becomes boring very quickly. Because these […]

Sky Combat mixes strong visuals with solid top-down shooter gameplay, making for a great gaming experience.

Traditionally, air combat shooting games have lived or died by the strength of the AI. That is to say, a game where you fly around shooting things without the threat of actually losing becomes boring very quickly. Because these sorts of games generally don’t have another gameplay mode or mechanic to switch things up, bad AI can just about doom the entire affair.

Sky Combat avoids that by giving the enemy tanks, turrets and fighter jets plenty of ammo to throw at its human counterpart. It’s not impossible to avoid being hit in Sky Combat, but avoidance, as a tactic, is something the player actually has to practice. You won’t be able to just camp out in a corner of the screen, blasting away at your enemies.

Wisely, players also get a number of other more offensive-minded evasive maneuvers. Anti-missile pulse bombs destroy incoming missiles, and a sort of evasive “Jump” button, that can only be used once every five to ten seconds or so, allows players to duck under some fire. That last part would feel a bit cheap, but that move is wisely limited, so you’ll have to be a bit more clever on the attack.

As challenging as Sky Combat is, it’s not bad to look at, either. Explosions look crisp and colorful, and the game moves with a solid pace; not too fast or too slow.

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Perhaps most surprising is that Sky Combat sticks to its genre’s arcade roots by keeping the story to a minimum. The main game mode is listed as a “campaign,” but that seems like a polite way to note that the game gives you missions to complete in a specific order. There is no indication of what or who you’re fighting for, and that’s just as well.

The game’s brief slip-up comes when it attempts to provide variety by throwing players into a tank. Fighting on the ground is certainly a change of pace. Suddenly you have to avoid running into walls, for instance, and your tank moves awkwardly, compared with the ease of flight, but it’s not nearly as enjoyable as the fighter jet portions of Sky Combat.

If you’ve ever dreamt of being a “Top Gun” pilot, or you simply enjoy a classic arcade shooter, Sky Combat makes for a great gaming experience. It’s simple in idea, but thorough in its execution, a real joy to play.

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Dan Kricke

Dan Kricke has been playing with electronics and writing about them for years. He loved his Sega Dreamcast and now the PlayStation 3. On the iPhone, he's a fan of sports apps and anything that offers new music.

 

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