Developer: Uwan Studio
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

What’s not to like about the hard as nails genre of shoot ‘em ups? Navigating virtual minefields of hellfire madness can be so much fun, especially when the player is aided by the use of iOS’ on-screen touch controls. But there comes a time when titles begin to tread the line between low-priced perfection and under-priced gougers. Lightning Fighter 2 is hoping to hold a steady course, without deviating into in-app purchase purgatory. Can it manage to steer clear of the pitfall of its peers, or will it fall victim to the same traps?

IMG_0609IMG_0604When it comes to games that can stretch an iDevice’s processor to its limit without rendering three dimensional video, SHMUPS are some of the biggest offenders. Numerous enemy vehicles all traveling alternate paths while spitting out artillery at a breakneck pace have been known to stress a device or two. When it comes to projectiles on screen, Lightning Fighter 2 ranks among the most hectic out there. Yet in a unique twist, the majority of the weaponry is actually being unleashed on the player’s end. Frankly, the powers available are borderline unfair for adversaries.

Following the traditional progression of a stage full of lackeys, which comes to a head in a climactic boss battle, Lightning Fighter 2 is about as formulaic as they come. Set to a soundtrack of futuristic metal, this sprawling galactic conflict is almost as much about the grind as it is about the action. As enemies are dispatched, they erupt into flames, showering coins down onto the player below. This currency must be gathered in order to purchase new ships and power-ups later on in the campaign.

IMG_0608IMG_0611The base title provides quite a bit of challenge and variety for the meager price of less than a dollar. This is compensated for by rather obtrusively providing countless opportunities to spend real world cash in order to extend a life, much like in a real life arcade. As ridiculous as it may seem, there are bound to be those that will indulge the developers, especially when the game is set on some of the higher difficulty levels. One other observation of note is that the usual bullet-hell associated with the genre seems a bit more forgiving than other releases. Especially in the case of boss battles, it seems far easier to avoid the one-shot insta-kills that would normally drive the masses crazy.

While it certainly isn’t blazing any new trails, Lightning Fighter 2 is a perfectly competent shoot ‘em up that is more approachable than most of its peers. A ninety nine cent investment for a game with this level of visual polish is more than justified, as long as players have the will power to avoid shelling out for an easy pay-to-win victory.


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