Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad
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Game Controls Rating:
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Somewhere at the nexus of Asteroids and Geometry Wars stands Meteor Blitz HD, an arcade shooter that has high production values but a difficult control scheme and ultimately a brutal learning curve.
Like the arcade classic Asteroids, you pilot a ship in an asteroid field and your job is to eliminate basically everything that is thrown your way. Like Geometry Wars, you have smart bombs, multiple weapons and the ability to fire those weapons in a 360 degree radius. The combination of the two game styles works very well, and it certainly isn't hurt by the well-crafted presentation.
Once you open the app, you are immediately dropped into a tutorial, which is more necessary than it might at first appear. Unlike Asteroids and Geometry Wars, there are many more controls to learn in Meteor Blitz, and these take some practice to master or to even use relatively effectively. The game is, in essence, a twin-stick shooter, so of course you are given two virtual pads as your primary control. The pad on the left controls your ship's direction and thrust while the pad on the right controls the direction you fire your weapon. Nothing new there, though it should be mentioned that playing a twin-stick shooter with virtual "sticks," as it were, is not the easiest thing to do. The firing control seemed to work better than the navigation/thrust control, as my fingers slipped to the wrong area of the screen fairly frequently. Fortunately, the developers included an automatic pause function whenever your fingers leave both main controls. Otherwise, I think my deaths would have been far greater in number and far more often in time.
One of the clever ways that Meteor Blitz HD differentiates itself from its predecessors is that some enemies in the game are fire based, while others are derived from ice. Thus, players need additional weapons to combat them. Above the control stick is another button that allows players to switch between conventional weapons, a flamethrower or an ice weapon. Switching between weapons (particularly in later levels) gives you a major strategic advantage, but only once you get truly comfortable with knowing where each of the virtual buttons is on screen. In a game such as this, spending any amount of time looking for the right control button can be deadly.
Graphically, the game impresses with well-rendered asteroids and solid planetary backgrounds. The audio for the game shines in terms of music (particularly if you are a fan of the same sort of techno tunes that populate Bizarre Creations' Geometry Wars games), but is only pragmatic in terms of sound effects. They are nothing bad, to be sure, but they are minimal at best.
Fans of twin-stick shooters will no doubt find a lot to like in Meteor Blitz HD, particularly if they don't mind the use of virtual controls. Once you spend a little time getting the hang of the control scheme, however, this is a game that shines on the iPad.