148Apps Network Post
Developer: PLAYBEAN
Price: $1.99
Version: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

When a top-down shooter looks good and features branching research trees, there’s a decent chance that it’ll turn out awesome. In some ways AstroWings2 comes close to that expectation. Unfortunately it kinda flubs the small (but no less important) details.

Right from the get-go players are able to choose from three different classes of ship in AstroWings2. It’s the obvious choices (offense, defense and balanced), but it’s nice to be able to pick one that suits my play style. There’s a small pool of credits to start out with that can be used to upgrade the ship’s health or a weapon or two, then it’s off the battle. Battle being pretty much what one would expect from an iOS shmup, which is to say auto-shooting and dragging a finger to move the craft. It’s in this portion, the actual playing, that things take a turn.

First I’d like to acknowledge what AstroWings2 does well. It’s a pretty good looking game for one thing, which should be fairly obvious from the screens. And as I’ve mentioned it’s nice to have a few styles of ship to pick from. The branching research trees that allow players to further customize their little engine of death is also quite nifty. In addition, there’s always the draw of replaying past stages for cash in order to purchase more/better upgrades.

Having what is essentially extra lives only available through in-app purchase is kinda sketchy, but a good enough player can manage without and bad players can typically grind their way to success with constant replays and upgrades. Where AstroWings2 really starts to fall apart is in the actual playing, as I’ve already mentioned. It’s not the controls, which are fine, but rather the enemy projectiles. They come in all manner of shapes and sizes, and most of them have a tendency to blend in to the backgrounds. Now I’m all for a shmup that challenges players, but when it does so by making the stuff I’m supposed to avoid touching incredibly hard to see it just feels cheap. Earning crap for credits if a level is failed doesn’t help either as it makes clawing one’s way through the upgrades incredibly taxing. And slow. Very, very slow.

AstroWings2 definitely gets the basics right, but small details like an odd in-app purchase model and camouflaged projectiles it stumbles right out of the gate. Nothing a little TLC can’t fix, but it’s tough to recommend in its current state. It does show promise, though.


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