Jul 22, 2010

Skies of Glory

I'm a fan of the arcade flight genre and absolutely loved Ace Combat on the PlayStation. In fact, it was among my first PlayStation titles purchased and served to continue my love affair with Namco. On the Android we've been blessed with a couple of pretty good flight games: Armageddon Squadron and Winds of Steel. Do we really need a third? Need is a strong word so let's just say that it's always good to have another choice.

Skies of Glory is a US $5 game making it one of the more expensive titles available in the Android Market. I was expecting to be blown away when I first played it. I was not. First, I had a rocky start with the game as after my first try with it I had some weird behavior on my phone. First, I lost my cool ring tone where Worf says "Captain! Incoming Message!". Yes, I am the hit at parties! Next... well that was 3 days ago so I really don't remember. Needless to say I wondered if the game had anything to do with said weirdness. I think it's safe to say "no" as I've been playing it quite a bit since then without incident.

The first thing to do in this game is to play through the tutorial. It'll teach you how to take off and fire and use the yaw controls and all that jazz. You'll have to destroy some balloons and some boxes on the ground and eventually a moving truck. These targets are far more difficult to destroy that I'd expect in a tutorial. I'd line those boxes up in my sight and be hammering away and nothing. Yes, eventually it would explode, but it took a lot of direct hits. If the rest of the game is like this then "no, thank you". Not to mention that the controls are quite challenging to get the hang of. I think this is the first flying game that I've had the option of yaw to turn... usually I have to roll in a direction and then even out. On the other hand... enough complaining about the tutorial. At least the game has one... and instructions... that aren't in broken English.

The game's graphics, as you can see from the screenshot, are top notch for an Android game. During game play I experienced little to no lag and it was a smooth process aside from gaining experience with the controls. Likewise, sound effects are in place and they work. You're not going to be be-bopping to some soundtrack while playing... just hearing your engines burn and enemy fire smashing through your windshield. And the control... all I can say is give it time. This game has depth and you're not being to be a flight hero in 5 minutes.

The game includes a single player campaign that consists of ten missions. You have to unlock them one after another. The first mission has you intercepting Luftwaffe fighters as they head across the English Channel. I did struggle with a bit of boredom from knocking down fighter after fighter.  There's also a lot going on. At one point the game quickly noted that there's some ship somewhere that I can fly to if I need help. What? Huh? Later I read through the written instructions and learned that I can tap on the life bar to reread that kind of stuff (although I have not done so, yet). I have yet to complete the other nine as I then I jumped in to online play. Oh, and the enemy planes weren't nearly as bad to shoot down... or maybe I got better... but taking out enemy fighters didn't provide nearly the same level of aggravation as those killer boxes in the tutorial.

The online player modes include a 'quick play' option than gets you in the middle of things asap. I tried that and I guess it's a crap shoot. I saw the last minute of the game... many planes crashing to the ground... and then saw that my 'team' had won. Go team! Wait, who? I think I'd rather find a game and play a scenario out from the beginning. Fortunately, as this is also an iPhone game, there actually are several other players waiting to play and you're not limited by the few Android owners that have purchased the game so far. Good move!

I was initially going to give this a 3 star review after my experience with the tutorial, then 4, then 4.5 after last night, but after continuing to play and seeing all of the detail in this game... the longevity it offers... and the fact that this game is going to easily provide $5 in entertainment with its missions and network play it's obvious, even to me, that this is a 5 star title. There's a lot here and it's worth every penny of $5. Just don't expect a cake walk, but wait... if it's too difficult there's an option to tone that down, too. 5/5 stars.

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