By Peter Magers on Tue, 08/05/2014
This much anticipated game from the developers at AimToG is the first game powered by Unreal Engine 4 to hit the iTunes App Store. Unreal Engine has been an incredible resource for designers and developers wanting to create one-of-a-kind graphic and animation experiences in their action-oriented games, and the newest incarnation of the engine has been much-hyped. The first game powered by it is, therefore, going to open itself up to quite a bit of scrutiny. The big question on everyone’s mind is going to be “Can Angels in the Sky live up to the buzz?” So far the answer seems to be… sort of.
First, the controls systems. Angels in the Sky ($6.99) has an easily learned intuitive control system and interface. The game features a sophisticated auto-targeting system which utilizes two different markers, one for each of the two weapons a player will have access to at any given time.
These two weapons are used by pressing buttons on the lower half of the right and left sides of the screen, by the visual representations of the two guns. In the version of the game this reviewer played, the left hand gun offered a self-regenerating resource and could be fired until that resource was depleted; it’s replenished on a timer.
The right side gun, in contrast, required the button to be held down while the gun charged, and then it could be fired at higher percentages to achieve more devastating effects. The game offers multi-touch tech, so both guns can be used concurrently. According to the developers, there will be a selection of guns for each side, so players can build their own strategy and gameplay style.
Plenty of games claim to offer an adrenaline rush; Angels in the Sky actually delivers on this front, at least at first. The game certainly offers non-stop action at a breathtaking pace from the moment the player begins stage one. The ships (both the player’s and the enemy's) are in constant motion; and with the great visuals, it’s easy to become immersed in the feeling of hurtling through the air, dodging death at every turn.
When enemy ships get close enough (without being shot down) they actually “crash” into the screen, creating a real feeling of danger. The problem is the targeting system is a little too automated and the player is on rails. While it does take some practice to master the controls, it’s a bit like playing an arcade game while riding a roller coaster—sure, it’s exciting at first, but after a few rounds it becomes clear the player is in control of little beyond their ability to button-mash.
The game’s graphics are, as one would expect from Unreal Engine 4, incredible, and the developers have gone above and beyond utilizing them to create a spectacular set of environments, enemies, and animations to make the entire game a rich visual experience for the player. The first-person perspective of the camera sucks the player in, and it’s admittedly a rush to see those gorgeous settings flying by while staring death in the face.
As the player progresses, there are plenty of upgrades and improvements they can undertake to help them succeed as the stages grow increasingly more harrowing. It’s a wild ride, but one that gamers who want more control and interaction are likely to get bored with—especially because there is quite a bit of grinding required to get upgrades unless one succumbs to the in-app purchases. Which brings up another question: If this game is so IAP focused, why isn’t it free to play?
Angels in the Sky is available now in the iTunes App Store, and while it’s a great way to take Unreal Engine 4 for an airborne, action-packed test drive, it’s probably going to be a footnote in a few months if there aren’t some major changes made.