Version Reviewed: 2.3.1
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Game Controls Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
If challenging, almost frustratingly difficult apps are your thing, Abstract War is definitely the game for you. Much like Geometry wars, Abstract War pits your geometric space ship against a small but plentiful map of geometric shapes of all different colors that are out to kill you and only you over 24 insanely challenging levels split up into 4 difficulties: speed (easy), Resistance (Normal), Attack (Hard), and Abstract (Very Hard). Within each difficulty there are six levels, each with a different kind of enemy attack and control scheme.
Each level is rather straightforward with its objectives, ordering you to simply survive for an allotted time. You start each level with a set number of lives and a set number of bombs that clear the screen of all enemies, but neither the amount of lives or bombs given ever seem like enough to actually make it to the end. Once you get in the game, enemies just start appearing all over the screen on a mission to hunt you down. Some appear at random, some appear in clumps, some appear from little squares that appear all over the screen, and some seem to come from angry red circles that try to slow you down. The enemies don't have weapons or anything, but with 50 shapes chasing you on a really tiny screen, it quickly becomes apparent that they don't need any.
The first thing that you will notice in Abstract War is the awful default controls. Don't fret though, there are many different control options to choose from, with the standard D pad with joystick based secondary controls being by far the best. The majority of the levels are set up to where you are in control of the ship with your gun auto-firing straight ahead. These levels are extremely difficult, so much so that I had to start the game on easy mode just to build up my skill. Starting at medium just isn't a good idea in Abstract War, trust me. The alternate levels on the other hand are a piece of cake, although I don't think that they are meant to be. The control scheme on these levels is a dual joystick mode, allowing you to stop your ship and fire in any direction your heart desires. Just position yourself in a corner and unleash hell. Without the difficulty of weaving and dodging, the secondary firing levels are unfortunately more of an oversight than anything.
[caption id="attachment_32619" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Dual stick levels are way too easy, just hide in a corner."]
As expected, the graphics in Abstract War are smooth and full of simple, neon geometric shapes flying around the screen with no lag at all. If you've played Orbital or geoDefense, you know exactly what to expect. The sound on the other hand was rather disappointing. Instead of the creepy System Shock type voice that other geometry games use, Abstract War opted out and just went for simple sounds that sound like a slightly upgraded Space Invaders. Fortunately I don't play with iPhone sound on too often, so it didn't really bother me, but I expected better.
In a nutshell, as long as you are willing to put up with an amazingly sharp difficulty curve, Abstract War will entertain and delight. Much like the challenging geometric apps Orbital and GeoDefense Swarm before it, once you get past the fact that you won't be good at the game day one, you'll love it. I'd definitely recommend skipping big cheeseburger at Jack in the Box for this one, your 99 cents will be much better spent.