Developer: Infinite Dreams
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.01
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★★
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Playtime Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Shoot-em-ups, or “SHMUPs” as many affectionately refer to them, have been a staple of the arcade experience for as long as gamers have been wasting quarters. Naturally, this pay-to-play mechanic seems like it would lend itself very well to the iOS free-to-play marketplace. Can Sky Force 2014 manage to deliver the goods while not depriving the player?

IMG_0539IMG_0528Flying the unfriendly skies in Sky Force 2014 is pretty much the perfect way to consume high-octane dogfighting. The smooth flowing action is directed using the player’s finger, which dictates the flight of the ship onscreen. Dodging, destroying, and lighting adversaries ablaze has never been more straightforward, let alone this much fun. Every vehicle that is dispatched jettisons stars, which then can be collected and used to purchase shield upgrades and weapon perks post-match. Nothing says incentive like free gear!

When it comes to gaming on the iPad 2, it is rather rare to encounter a game that genuinely wows the player. Somehow the development team over at Infinite Dreams has managed to deliver a visually impressive product, even on the most dated of the flagship iOS hardware. Even when things are at fever pitch the game performs admirably, providing a great experience that pops on an iPad screen.

IMG_0534IMG_0533Though there seems to be plans in the works for increasing the monetization options available to players, as of right now Sky Force 2014 only has respawnable lives that can presumably be purchased in lieu of waiting. Additionally, it can be assumed that players will also be able to purchase stars or pay for ship upgrades, but currently that is not yet in place. Regardless, as long as the player isn’t completely terrible, there is a very low likelihood of needing to shell out cash in order to continue playing.

Finally! A SHMUP that isn’t designed to designed to bleed the wallet dry. Sky Force 2014 walks the free-to-play line brilliantly, while still offering up a stellar shooter experience. Don’t miss out on this rapid firing gem.

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