Sky Force Reloaded

   08/04/2009 at 12:07       Phil May       2 COMMENTS. - Score 4/5

Wave after wave of battle hardened lunatics want to turn you into toast

It's not exactly the world's best kept secret that I'm a bit of a shoot 'em up fan. Perhaps not quite as fervent or maniacal as a couple of our incumbents here, but nonetheless it's a genre I'll happily make time for.

The iPhone / iPod Touch has a few decent vertical scrollers available for it, so when Infinite Dreams contacted us to let us know about Sky Force Reloaded we thought we'd check it out.

Sky Force Reloaded drops you into the cockpit of one of three fighter ships each with its own characteristics. Firing the game up, you are presented with difficulty level options and a nice front end before you get to pick your weapon of choice and launch into the game proper.

Anyone familiar with stand-up arcade classics such as Slap Fight or 1942 will know what to expect. Developers Infinite Dreams obviously have a lot of love for the genre because Sky Force Reloaded ticks a lot of the boxes that are essential ingredients for a decent vert shooter.

First, there's the progressive power-ups. Collecting floating medals will up your (automatic) firepower, allowing you to concentrate your fire and unleash deadly molten death upon your many many attackers, who come in waves to try and obliterate you.

The scenery is interactive too, with plenty of destructible ground cover, gun emplacements and enemy ground units for you to shoot at.

You can also pick up civilians trapped in the warzone for extra bonus points.

Controls on the touch screen are superbly responsive. With a drag of your finger you can put your ship exactly where you want it to be. Firing's taken care of automatically leaving you to concentrate on avoiding incoming enemy fire and dishing out a thorough drubbing to 'em in the process.

No fortune, but glory!

Sky Force Reloaded's 8 levels are packed to the gills so the game rarely pauses for breath. Graphically it easily matches the best of the classic arcade games mentioned earlier, with plenty of bitmapped detail and a rather nice line in enemy animations and movements (even down to the tiny tiny civilians who wave frantically at you from the ground as your ship passes overhead). Scrolling is smooth and there are some nice parallax effects as your ship moves through cloud cover, it's a nice touch to see a game this nicely polished not skimping on the action.

Ramping up your power-ups pays dividends and once you've upgraded to the most powerful weapon, a massively destructive laser, you can really start to clean up. The more enemy units you destroy, the greater your percentage at the end of each level - and of course the greater your score.

Each hit on your ship will eat away at your shields. Lose the lot and you lose a life, but thankfully you can quickly hoover up your powerups when the game resumes, allowing you a fighting chance when things get harder and busier in later levels.

Sound in the game is nicely done, with a good line in classic 8-bit tuneage blitting away while you're shooting the crap out of everything. Great spot effects too.

Really the only criticism I can make is that the enemy units can get a bit samey after a while, as can the first couple of bosses - but there's still plenty of gameplay on offer for the paltry sum of £1.79, and of course there's a lite version if you want to try before you buy.

Comparing Sky Force Reloaded to the likes of Galaga (which is more expensive and nowhere near as playable) and a couple of other recent shoot 'em up releases, SFR is definitely worth a look. It'd be nice to see a little bit more variety in unit design if they're doing a sequel but otherwise this is a strong contender for best blast 'em up on the iPhone / iPod so if you're a fan of the genre, check it out.
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