Developer: Encore Games
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad, iPhone 3G

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

The twin-stick shooter has become one of the preeminent genres on the App Store thanks to the quality controls and fun gameplay setups the best games of the genre are expected to provide. Encore Games have decided to cash in on this popular genre with their new game Fortis, and while it does some good things with its gameplay setup, it struggles where other games have succeeded with its controls.

Fortis puts you in 36 levels of arenas with the goal being to destroy a certain percentage of enemies in the level before time is up. Each level has preset elements and enemy patterns with few randomly generated elements besides enemy item drops of health, armor, bombs, points, or money. The money can be used to upgrade and buy ammo for your 3 special weapons, to go along with your unlimited ammo standard shot.

Fortis has impressive graphics, with virtually everything rendered in 3D. The learning curve of the game makes use of acclimating you to the game’s various elements. You don’t have to worry about anything but survival in the first few levels, until the prerequisites become more challenging and levels become optimized around the usage of certain weapons, forcing you to learn how to use them and how you should ration your earnings throughout the crucial middle portion of the game. By the final levels, you have amassed enough skill and money that the final levels are only about trying to survive them rather than any kind of resource management.

Fortis’ control scheme is the biggest issue in the game. Accuracy in movement and weapon usage is key, especially since your ship takes major damage if you fly into enemies, and your weapons burn through ammo very rapidly. The control problems manifest most prominently in a level where enemies fly on screen quickly and disappear after a short instant, so you have to use the expensive but deadly missiles to to destroy them quickly. Now, you have to aim very carefully to get the aiming line correct to hit the enemies, and because the pads are not fixed on screen, it is very easily possible to think you’re aiming in one direction, but where you place your finger has recentered the aiming pad, causing you to fire in a different direction entirely. An option to lock the pads in place would help greatly. As well, the mission structure feels like it could be explored far more by the game than it was – they’re all just enemy destruction prerequisites, instead of any other creative objectives that could be explored.

Fortis’ high production values and clever level structure designed to acquaint you with the game’s learning curve make it a decent game, but its at times unrealized potential and spotty controls disappoint. Fans of twin-stick shooters won’t mind adding this to their collection, but with so many other great entries, it’s hard to say this should be the first place one should look for twin-stick shooter action.

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