Version Reviewed: 1.0
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Top down space shooters are all the rage for the iPhone, and with solid games such as Isotope, Nanofighter, and Anomaly, it seemed any more entries would be superfluous. That notion was obliterated with the arrival of Meteor Blitz, and with its superb graphics, smooth controls, and challenging gameplay, Meteor Blitz stands at the head of the class as the best by far of its genre.
At it's core, Meteor Blitz is a dual stick shooter. You move around a completely open battlefield trying to save planets from malignant meteors falling from space. In addition, enemy ships will try to destroy you as well. When you destroy enemies, rings will appear that can be used to upgrade ship attributes such as weapons and speed. Unlike other App Store shooters, Meteor Blitz utilizes a variety of weapons. The standard lasers to equal damage against all meteors, but the flamethrower does higher damage against ice rocks, and the ice bullets can demolish lava meteors. Thus, you have to switch weapons constantly on some levels according to the situation. The coolest weapon in Meteor Blitz is the gravity gun. With the gravity gun, you can suck in a meteor or enemy ship, use it as a shield temporarily, then unleash it with some hefty blast damage. In the coolest move of the game, if you time it just right so that you move your ship just as you are sucking in the enemy, you can swing the object around, destroying other enemies. You can upgrade the range and effectiveness of the gravity gun. There is also the typical screen-clearing bomb, of which you have a limited arsenal. In addition to these weapons, there is also a speed boost, that when activated, makes you able to plow through objects. One element that really makes Meteor Blitz challenging is the enemy formations. Enemies will drop from space with little warning surrounding you and quickly closing in, and quick reflexes are necessary to escape. To help with the difficulty there are bonus powerups scattered throughout levels such as shield and slow-down. If I had one complaint about the gameplay of Meteor Blitz, it would be that overall, the game derives a little too much from Super Starshine HD without adding much new.
Meteor Blitz has two gameplay modes: arcade and survival. In arcade, there are six worlds with five levels each. After blasting away for a while, a boss appears at the end of each level. Destroy the boss to get to the next level. If you unlock a world, you can start a new arcade game from the from the first level of that world without having to start anew from the easiest world. Survival is simply one infinitely long level. When you lose all your lives, you're finished. Both modes have local and online scoreboards. Two features really show the level of detail the developer put in the game: the pause function and the auto-save feature. Instead of having to clumsily reach for a pause button, you can pause the game by simply letting go of the screen. This works fantastically and is very helpful. If for some reason you don't like this feature, however, it can be turned off in the options. The auto-save function is the best I've seen in an iPhone game to date. If you quit the game in the middle of either arcade or survival time, the next time you boot the game up, you'll almost instantly be placed in the exact level in the exact place in the exact situation you were in before you quit. No menus necessary, and no rough checkpoint approximations.
Meteor Blitz is controlled via two analog sticks; the one on the left is for moving and the one on the right is for shooting. These sticks are both amazingly sensitive and responsive, and the best for a game with this control scheme. You can deftly maneuver between two enemies with ease. Buttons around the right stick allow you to detonate bombs and switch weapons. Double tapping on the left stick activates a boost, and double tapping on the right stick uses the gravity gun, and you can choose to enable shaking for either of these, though I don't know why you would.
The graphics in Meteor Blitz are stunning. The meteors look like meteors and the enemy ships look like enemy ships, but it is the backgrounds that are truly impressive. The backgrounds contain vibrant, crisp colors and impressive artwork. In addition, as you move through the level, the background rotates on the edges just a bit to give the cool illusion of traveling on a sphere. The techno soundtrack is great, and sound effects are above average. You can also play your own music.
Meteor Blitz is a smooth, beautiful shooter that zooms ahead of Isotope as the best space shooter on the App Store. For $1.99, there's absolutely no reason to pass up this gem.