Thank goodness for Sky Force!
To help justify my previous, and some may say conclusive, statement, I was recently out in Hong Kong for a holiday (showing off right). Well on what should have been an uneventful flight back, my plane was delayed for 24 hours leaving me very pissed off, but also with a lot of time waiting about the airport. I had installed a few games onto the iPad in case of any waiting around, but none quite took the edge off like Sky Force; making my time at Hong Kong airport a little more bearable.
Sky Force 2014 is a celebration of a game, going by a similar name, released 10 years ago to much praise by the industry. Looking back, IGN gave the original a 9.5 at the time which, as you can see, is a great score. Sky Force 2014, then, had a lot to live up to for those who had played the original, but it also has to compete in an increasingly competitive mobile market. But has it held up?
At it’s heart, Sky Force is a rail shooter. The objective is to guide a plane loaded with the latest in ass kicking guns and lasers through enemy infested areas in order to take down an evil general. The story is nice and tight, with not a huge amount going on, but it’s just not the sort of game that needs it. I often forget that there even should be a boss at the end of the level by the time I got there.
The true beauty of this game can be seen in not only both the graphics and style, but also in the controls. Sky Force is great to look at and really takes advantage of modern retina screens to provide an experience that would be more than acceptable from a digital game on the PS4. It’s great to see the 3D models of the plane, the enemy vehicles and the background, and it really helps to add depth to a top down view. This can occasionally add confusion as to what you can and can’t fly over, but as long as you keep dogging and diving then it’s not too hard to figure out.
Like I mentioned before, the controls are another big reason as to why Sky Force works so well. I have played many games now on mobile devices and the biggest struggle seems to be finding a control system that just works perfectly. It is definitely a challenge for mobile devices, and I have been totally put off by some games because I just can’t play how I want to play, Minecraft being one of them. Luckily for me Sky Force doesn’t have this issue. Like similar games, the plane can go from side to side and up and down the screen, which can all be controlled simply by holding your finger over the plane and dragging it about the screen, it’s that simple. If you find that you have big fat fingers, (like me), you can also swap the controls to be able to use any point in the screen in a similar way meaning you can slide your finger around next to the plane for the same result allowing you to see the whole craft. This makes the game very easy to play and control but one of the best features has to come once you take your finger off the screen. Rail shooters can be very frantic and often any difference between stoping play and pausing can make the difference. Taking your finger off the screen here slows the game down to an almost standstill, either giving you time to pause or just allowing you a second break to steel yourself before the next big section. This slower mode also gives you the ability to fire any collected lasers or activate a timed shield if they have been collected.
Outside of the gameplay you can upgrade your ship with stars collected that will increase gun or shield power and also add more weapons to an expanding arsenal. You also have some options to pay cash for extras such as more money or a permanent x2 star collection. The game is still 100% playable without spending your cash which gives the game more credit if you think it may be worth a couple of quid to get some extras.
While the game is hard, it provides a great challenge and is very easily played on the go or at home. It’s great for a pick up and play experience but you could equally spend hours trying to beat the levels or attempting to get a high score. It’s free now on IOS and Android, so pick it up!