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Our Review by Kevin Stout on June 22nd, 2009
Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar :: VERY FLAWED
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This is far from the quality shooter experience that I received from Isotope, but any app selling for $0.99 is worth a try if you like the genre.

Developer: Chillingo Ltd
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0 

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Game Controls Rating: starblankstarblankstarblankstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarblankstarblankstarblankstar

iPhone Integration Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar
User Interface Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar

Update: Note that one of the things are were critical on in is the apparent slowdowns / stutters in the game. We have been notified by the publisher that they have already submitted an update to Apple for this issue. The slowdown issues seems to only hit some devices, not all. We will revisit this review and update it as needed once that update has been pushed.

Before I explain I think it's important to point out that I've recently reviewed another iPhone shooter, Isotope, and it's become my one of my favorite iPhone games. Therefore, I will be comparing to Isotope quite a few times in this review because I see Isotope as the top shooter that other shooters must be judged on.

The Game
Basically, your goal is to destroy barriers in order to take down "data cores" in each level... there really isn't much more explanation than that. Each level you go around destroying the red barriers (red rectangles, yes I know interesting right?) and once all of them are destroyed a countdown starts and you destroy the data core (big blue thing that's always in the middle of the level). In addition to the hard time I had playing the game because of the difficult to use controls (which I'll get to next), I had a hard time even wanting to play the game in the first place because each level is just the last level plus one more barrier.

The controls were the major reason that I couldn't bring myself to enjoy the game. For the direction in which the ship is facing,'s control is similar to Isotope (which I love). The control is simply a circle where you place your thumb. Whatever direction you move your thumb towards is the direction the ship will face. The circle control was not the problem, it was the entire right side control.

The right 1/4 of the screen has two buttons, the gas (taking up the top 2/3 of it) and the fire button (taking up the rest at the bottom). Where's the brake, you might ask? It's the gas... Yes, I typed that correctly. In order to brake, you must take your finger and drag it down on the gas area. Maybe you can envision the problem this causes. doesn't recognize the break motion, you speed up, crash, fail! This happened a frustrating amount of times every time I attempted to play the game, making the "easy" mode extremely difficult to enjoy. Another problem with the right side control is when you want to switch between using the gas and using the fire button. Maybe you want to pull a cool move like dragging your finger all the way down the right side of the screen to brake and start shooting at the same time - it doesn't work that way. You have to lift your finger off of the gas in order to get the fire button to work, the game seems to think you're still pressing the gas button if you just drag your finger down to it - more crash, more fail!

There is also an "Advanced" control option. This is just plain confusing. The right half of the screen is similar to the basic, which is obviously a problem with me, and the left half consists of using your thumb to rotate the ship. Basically a line shows up on the screen when you press your finger on it and when you move it left or right the ship rotates. It's even more awkward than the basic and more difficult to control but it's possible that once you get the hang of it, it might be alright.

Basic and Advanced mode both share the accelerometer controlled slow-motion mode. If you gently shake your iPhone your ship basically becomes an indestrubable ship with everything moving slowly around it. The amount of time it allows you to do this depends on how much time you've saved up (by collecting the green spheres that enemy ships drop). This is a decent idea but doesn't make the game any easier when you have a hard time making the regular gas and brake controls do what you want them to.

Graphics and Sound
If it wasn't for my lack of interest in the music and sound effects in, my score might have been five stars on the graphics and sound section. The game is always interesting and colorful, although I think that Chillingo may have gone a little bit overboard on trying to make the game look good. There are occasional flashing lights in the background that kind of make it hard to see things sometimes as well as some other really overpowering graphics - causing the occasional lag, which I can't stand.

The sound effects clash with the music whenever things explode, which may also be the cause of the occasional lag that I experience. The music is decent but still not very entertaining. Ever since buying Parachute Panic I compare every game's music to it. If I enjoy the sound as much as I do on Parachute Panic, then those are some great sounds. didn't come close to that quality.

Problems, Wishes and Misses
Problems. As I mentioned earlier, the lagging caused by either the sound or the flashing lights is a major problem. At some points, the lag actually caused me to crash. And of course the awkward controls are worth noting as a problem.

Wishes. I wish, instead of replacing the two control options, a new control was added - possibly similar to the two circles in Isotope. I also, like my request for Isotope, want the option to make the background a lighter color. I'm not sure what the obsession is to create shooters with a black background, but for the iPhone this makes it hard for users to play the game in intense lighting situations.

Misses. I think the "Advanced" control system is a complete miss. I could easily have done without it and I have a hard time believing many players would prefer these controls to the basic (as much as I dislike the basic).

The game is always worth a shot since it's only $0.99. There's always the possibility that you will like the game more than I did. But for me, my shooter of choice on the iPhone is still Isotope... for now.

iPhone Screenshots

(click to enlarge) screenshot 1 screenshot 2 screenshot 3 screenshot 4 screenshot 5

iPad Screenshots

(click to enlarge) screenshot 6 screenshot 7 screenshot 8 screenshot 9 screenshot 10
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