Version Reviewed: 1.0
Free or "Lite" Version: Isotope Lite: A Space Shooter
Graphics / Sound [rating:3.5/5]
Game Controls [rating:5/5]
iPhone Integration [rating:4.5/5]
User Interface [rating:4/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:5/5]
I've yet to come across a shooter on the iPhone that has kept my attention for more than maybe an hour of gameplay before I deleted it - until Isotope. There isn't anything uniquely special about Isotope compared to other shooters, but everything is done perfectly.
I immediately was bothered by the controls on this game but I found a remedy to the situation. Isotope gives you two circles for controls. Moving your thumb around in one circle controls movement. The other controls direction of fire (there is no fire button, you simply aim at a direction and it fires). At first, both circles move based on where your press your fingers on the screen. I hated this because I would occasionally lose the circles in a spot I didn't want them to be on the screen. I assumed that this couldn't be the only way that you could have the controls set up so I searched options and found that there were two more options. I selected "Fixed" and it completely "fixed" my problem. The Fixed controls option keeps the circles in a position in the bottom left and right corners of the screen without the ability to move them. Why the controls aren't set to fixed in the first place I don't know. Other than the option being set to one I didn't like, the controls are great. It's simple and easy to learn how to control the game, letting you focus more on mastering the game instead of mastering how to make sure your ship doesn't crash.
What makes Isotope addicting is the enormous amount of ships, satellites, abilities, and modules that you can buy for your ship (you can actually buy a large amount of different stores that you can buy these items from as well!). There are over 40 different ships and even more satellites, abilities, and modules. Each ship has a different type of gun and bullet and a different set of possible stats (gun, shield, and CPU), making every ship unique in it's own way. My current favorite ship is Aluminum, it has a spread gun (shoots a wide area) with exploding bullets (self-explanatory) and a balanced stat setup of 4 for each stat (meaning that each stat can be leveled up to level 4, it doesn't start at 4). This brings me to another great part of Isotope, you level up with each ship, not just in general, which means if you decide to buy a new ship it is normally advantageous to you to go back and do previous levels for money and experience - giving Isotope a much better replay value than most other shooters. There are 9 sets of levels, with each set being between 3-5 levels. I'm currently still only on the 4th set because of buying new ships, leveling them up, or going back and doing levels I know I'll do good on for more money.
Problems, Wishes, and Misses
Problems. When a call comes in, Isotope doesn't pause and save the level that you are currently playing, so you lose any experience or money you would have received playing that level. This isn't a huge problem considering the levels are generally short, but it's still quite annoying when you get a call near the end of a level that you just got done doing great on.
Wishes. I'm not a big fan of the see-through blue objects and black background. I wish that iDrinkApp.com would create themes for Isotope, especially for people who like to play in high light situations. Us iPhone users hate games with black backgrounds, it makes it next to impossible to see in the sun. At least give me the option to make the background white. Also, add more levels. I know I've played for a few hours and still haven't beat it yet, but 9 sets of levels just doesn't seem enough to me. I feel confident that more levels will come with an update though, even at version 1.0 this game has a lot of content.
Misses. Sound. I wasn't a big fan of the sound effects or the music, both were rather boring. The sound in addition to the black background is what caused me to give the Graphics/Sound category 3.5 stars instead of better.
Note: I was ready to call Isotope my favorite iPhone game until someone introduced me to Peggle this weekend (also a very cool game to check out, read the review here).