Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPod touch 4
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Steambirds: Survival takes Spry Fox's original Steambirds gameplay design - turn-based aerial combat - adds in a dash of Halfbrick magic by making the game into an endless survival game, and oh, it's free to play too. Players try to survive as long as possible in the unfriendly skies, piloting their plane to try and outmaneuver other planes to shoot them down without taking any damage as well. Players are also tasked with missions that grant additional rewards as well as propel the story along. Players earn copper for everything they do, and this can be used to unlock other levels, which each have their own plane and enemy setups, as well as to hire allies to help out on a mission.
The game goes at a much faster pace than it did in its original incarnation, and that is to the game's ultimate benefit. Every action feels like it has a direct consequence, and it does feel more like an action game than the chess game that the original was. It still requires strategy, just a different kind, one that is more immediate. One stupid move and it's game over. There's a tension that the original game just does not have that makes this game si much more engrossing and replayable because of the survival structure. Yet, the mission structure also present gives any random game session a sense of purpose that most endless survival games do not have.
Steambirds: Survival's banner ads are nothing if not absurdly annoying. They feel like they're awkwardly placed on top of the rest of the game with no regard for the rest of the game's interface. That, and the overwhelming majority of them seems to be limited to dating services. I get it, I'm playing a turn-based strategy game, I don't need to be reminded I'm single! The ads cost $2.99 to remove, when purchasing the "Unlock all levels" IAP. As well, the game appears to have OpenFeint cloud saves; but not between the phone and tablet versions. Both versions are free; why this couldn't just be a universal app baffles me. The tutorial is unskippable, which is incredibly annoying.
The free to play elements are particularly odious here, but if the ads were toned down or removed entirely, the experience would be a lot better. The free price is otherwise hard to beat, and the Halfbrick influence on the game can be felt. For even a turn-based strategy game, this feels snappy and action-packed, and it is a great evolution of the Steambirds design. There's just work needed to improve the meta experience.