Friday, September 25, 2009

Above and Beyond Air Combat Review

Earlier this year, Licentia Software released the game SciFly: Dogfight for iPhone. Now, this week, they released a new game in the same genre, Above & Beyond Air Combat. I now own both, and I must say, the latter is much better than the first, and, in my opinion, now surpasses any other game in the entire genre.
A&B BC, $1.99, is a semi-open world dogfighting game, where your goal is to roam through over 60 islands, with different environments like ice, lava, crystal, and grass, and conquer them. You do this by destroying all of the spaceships, boats, and towers defending the island. There are no loading times between the islands, and the frame rate is impressive. The game isn't too easy, and you might find yourself dying a few times, and it's not the "pull your hair out" difficulty of some other games. But that's only Conquest mode, which lasted me over 3 hours. There's also Gauntlet and Survival Mode. In Gauntlet mode, you move through one of two stages, either a Molten Pass or Canyon Rush. You go through green hoops, gain speed boosts, and make it to the end of the course before time runs out. In Survival mode, you are on a big island, and must defend against incoming waves of enemy planes. Once you finish or lose each of the levels in the modes, you get a score, and can compare it with either your friends or anyone worldwide, through OpenFeint. There are also 18 built in achievements, which provide motivation to finish the game. A nice extra feature is that if you have 3.0 software, you can play your own music while conquering the world with your plane. If you turn the sound effects down slightly, it can give the game a cool feel.
Now for the controls; there's not much to say. They're flawless. Tilt to move your plane around, press buttons on the left side of the screen to speed up or slow down, a button on the top right to shoot normal weapons, and a button on the bottom right appears when you can use special weapons. The default sensitivity is perfect, but if you're picky, the game has turn and pitch sensitivity sliders, invert pitch, roll control, and hide in game buttons. When you resume from the pause angle, the angle you're currently at becomes the neutral position for your plane.
Now, for one of the best parts of the game. Customization. There are 12 different unlockable ships, which you can change the color schemes of to practically any combination you wish. There is an item store, where you can buy weapons, thrusters, and shields with in-game credits you earn by conquering islands. You can then mix and match these on your ship.
There are a few things that annoy me about this game, though not very much. Whenever you launch the app, the volume is set to half-full, which can be surprising when you're playing somewhere quiet without the volume on, and there's suddenly game sounds. Also, all of the in-game buttons are rounded, but the OpenFeint button is rectangular, which is slightly displeasing. But these are very trivial things, and for the most part, the game is amazing.

Great Graphics and Framerate
Customization is Good
Long Conquest Mode
Only $1.99 Currently

A Few Trivial Annoyances

Bottom Line:
A&B BC is a great game to buy. I wasn't extremely interested in the genre before I played the game, but now I'm hooked and waiting for more. Highly recommended.

Graphics: 5/5
Gameplay: 4.5/5
Controls: 4.5/5
Sound: 4.5/5
Replay Value: 3.5/5

Overall: 9/10 (not an average)


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