Developer: Glu
Price: Free to Play
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Playtime: Rating: ★★½☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Glu has come up a nice pattern to their free-to-play games. They’re making plenty of high-production-value, core gamer titles along with the occasional social simulation game. Their newest in the former category isBombshells: Hell’s Belles. This is an aerial shooter, where players use guns, missiles, and evasive maneuvers to help take down the fiends of T.O.O.L., the nefarious organization last seen in Gun Bros., not the rock band. Missions generally involve there being several targets to take out, and if they’re taken out before the player is taken out, then it’s experience and loot for all! Huzzah! Otherwise, it’s the cold realization of failure.

Fans of games like Galaxy on Fire 2 with its shooter action, and even fans of air shooters going back toStar Fox 64 will love this. The combat is full of opportunities to watch things blow up, spin out of the way, and pull off 180 degree flips to get right back in pursuers’ faces. There’s a great number of different weapons to use to accomplish all this high-flying combat. The environments are extremely detailed; this feels like one of Glu’s most polished efforts yet. There’s a single-player mode with missions, and even live online deathmatch to take part in.

Now, this is a free-to-play title, and Glu is not afraid to push for players to spend money, by parading out extremely powerful items available for high rollers. Even the currency doubler is put on display for all to see. Affording new weapons with the elements necessary to succeed is not cheap, and requires grinding previously-completed levels as well. Still, this is kind of par for the course for Glu. The controls require calibration before every level, and still manage to be tricky to use. An on-screen joystick option would be welcome.

Oh, and let me just say that pretty the style of Bombshells: Hell’s Belles is just plain regrettable. Let’s start with the double pun on the title. One reference to a squad of attractive women who are explosive and/or hellish would have been enough. Then, all of them are drawn with a lustful look, with cleavage poking out a-plenty. And finally, the dialogue is just awful. There are so many corny jokes that I felt bad for the voice actresses that had to say them. Oh ladies, a better day is coming.

The standard Glu caveat applies to those interested in Bombshells: Hell’s Belles: be preared to spend money. Free players are actively plotted against. There’s a fun core game here, but remember: it’s free to play, not necessarily free to progress and really enjoy the game. Caveat emptor.

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