By Eric Pankoke on Wed, 12/02/2009
In case you're wondering about the title, I had a "tradition" around the PocketPC Magazine blogs for the past couple of years where I'd try and write a series of 12 reviews for the month of December before December 25th. Of course, back then I wasn't writing nearly as many reviews as I am now, but I figured "you know, might as well keep the tradition going". So, welcome to the first installment of "The 12 Reviews Of Christmas" for my iPhone blog. Now, the astute observer will note that the title actually says "Day 2". That's because my review of Secrets Of The Mysterious Island actually ended up being dated 12/1, which I wasn't aware of when I posted it. As a result, this is technically my second review of December on this blog, so technically I'm ahead of the game! Anway, without further ado, here's the actual review...
I have nothing against simple games. I don’t even necessarily care if the look or sound the best (as long as they look and sound better than something I could do). However, when a game doesn’t play well all the rest sort of really doesn’t matter much. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case with Alien Strike. What could have been an all right Defender clone has such a wonky control scheme that it’s almost not playable unless you set it to indestructible mode, at which point it’s no longer any fun anyway.
Alien Strike is sort of like Defender in reverse. Instead of playing the lone gunman trying to rescue all the people from the relentless aliens, you play an alien trying to destroy all the humans and their dwellings. And you can only fly in one direction, as opposed to Defender where you could go both ways. So I guess I don’t know why it reminds me of Defender, but it does. At any rate, you can both shoot human ships out of the sky and drop bombs on unsuspecting buildings. There are power ups you can collect along the way to give you temporary weapons boosts, some health back or additional bombs. If you collide with a ship, an enemy bullet or the wall or ceiling you lose some health, and when your health is gone the game is over. Alien Strike is one of those “one life to score as high as you can” type games.
The control scheme is basically a button press to fire your weapon, a downward swipe right underneath the fire button to drop a bomb, and tapping anywhere else on the main part of the screen to fly up. Firing your weapon works fine, but the swipe to drop a bomb can sometimes be tricky. Also, it seems like firing either weapon either negates your descent or hastens it depending on the mood of the game, and firing and flying up at the same time doesn’t appear to be possible. Ascending and firing simultaneously aren’t a necessity as long as your ship doesn’t actually sink while you’re firing, but that doesn’t always seem to be the case. It really feels to me like the controls need a lot of work before they are actually user friendly. I would especially love to see an actual button for dropping bombs instead of having to swipe downwards, which seems only marginally responsive.
The graphics in Alien Strike are okay. The background is simple, the UFO and ships are somewhat detailed, and the buildings actually look pretty decent. I’ve only run into a couple of different ship designs so far, but that could be because I never last very long. The sound effects are pretty simple as well, appearing to come mainly from some stock sci-fi library. The chime when you die is cool, though. Unfortunately there is no background music in Alien Strike.
I would love to give this game a higher rating. I think there is a lot of potential for this to be one of those “simple yet engaging” games. Unfortunately, the controls really make it difficult to enjoy Alien Strike for any length of time. Add to that the lack of diversity and no music, and Alien Strike almost feels more like a beta than a finished product. I hope the developer makes some improvements to this game for the future, but right now it’s very hard for me to recommend this when there are so many polished shooters available on the App Store.
Overall Score: 4/10
App Store Link