Developer: Gameloft
Price: $6.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0

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

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Gameloft seems to be hitting its stride as of late with the excellent sequel to Gangstar and Modern Warfare 2. Their recent games have all had fantastic controls, consistently smooth graphics, and half-ok stories to boot. Star Battalion, their latest game, doesn’t quite hit the highs of their latest games, but it also doesn’t sink down to the all-time Gameloft lows (Real Tennis 2009 – ouch).

Before I get into the graphics or the gameplay, I have to mention the glaring lack of originality that seems to plague the folks at Gameloft. Their graphics and sound guys are top notch, but their app ideas/stories are always (with no exceptions) knockoffs of something else. In this case, Star Battalion is a blatant Star Wars knock off, complete with a “Royalist” empire and an obligatory rebel force. The whole thing, from start to finish, screams ROGUE SQUADRON — but really, what else would you expect from Gameloft?

As far as the game goes, each mission is really just a seek and destroy mission, just with different overlays. Like any other open flying airplane-type game, there are small bits of flying around looking for something intersected by long, drawn out dogfights. Sometimes you’ll have to find holocubes or follow mercenaries around space junk, but most of the game is fighting. On a side note, there is a local and online coop mode (through Game Center or Gameloft Live) that lets you play with real people in your squadron. It doesn’t add anything to the gameplay, but it is a fun little ditty.

Being a space game, the control system is really what makes or breaks the experience. Unlike the rest of the Gameloft lineup, Star Battalion is completely accelerometer controlled (although you can switch to the joystick), and it utilizes screen swipes for barrel rolls and u-turns. There’s a button for the laser and a button for the missile, but for the most part, the screen is filled with gameplay and necessary items like dialogue boxes and the radar.

The accelerometer controls are where most people will find fault with the game. As nice as the graphics and the sound are (they really are quite nice), the control system is just a bit chunky. Even while adjusting the sensitivity, the ships movement seems to go a little further than you would like it. It doesn’t make the game unplayable for the most part, but there are a handful of levels that are extremely frustrating because they require you to fly in confined spaces. The game desperately needs some kind of auto assisted controls in certain parts, just to end the chaos.

At the end of the day, most fans of space combat games won’t find too much wrong with Star Battalion. In typical Gameloft fashion, the game is smooth, looks nice, and has a half descent story (even though it is a total knock off). The controls will drive you nuts at times, but for most, the good will outweigh the bad.

By the way, if you catch me at the right time I may just be up for a co-op level or two. My Game Center ID is Chris148apps.

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