By Eric Pankoke on Fri, 03/04/2011
Last Stand Stan is kind of like a mix between Missile Command and Asteroids. Like the latter game you have a 360 degree battle, but much like the former you fight from a fixed position, which in this case is the center of the screen. Many games that employ this format have you controlling a planet or some critter on top of a planet, but in this case you control a robot named Stan, though you are still tasked with defending a planet. I think the game has a ton of potential, but in its current incarnation there are enough drawbacks that it hasn’t reached that potential. What you end up with, then, is an average game that’s on its way to the top.
Let’s start with the controls. Instead of having some virtual d-pad to turn Stan, you simply tap where you want him to shoot and he obliges by turning there and shooting. While mostly effective, my fingers are big enough that at times I miss because the game decides to register the tap at a part of my finger that wasn’t covering the intended target. Now you can drag your finger around the screen and he will keep shooting, but since you’re limited on ammo that’s not a good idea. Personally, I’d like to see Stan either auto-target the closest ship to where I tap, or give me a virtual d-pad to move and a fire button. Better yet, give me the choice of any of these methods.
There are two ways to protect the planet in Last Stand Stan – Campaign and Survival modes. In campaign mode you have to work your way through 20 levels, with a boss fight at the end of every fifth level. I generally tend to prefer campaign modes, but in this case I think they made the transition between levels almost too seamless. There’s a level counter at the top, but unless you either unlock a weapon or are paying attention to the counter (which is not a top priority) you might not even realize you’ve changed levels. I’m actually a big fan of the whole “level X complete” type notifications, if for no other reason than the satisfaction of an intermediate accomplishment. Survival mode plays out similar to campaign mode, but you can potentially fight any alien type at any time, and there is no real “progression”. You do, however, have access to any weapons you’ve unlocked in campaign mode.
I think a few interface changes would go a long way towards enhancing the game. In addition to the control suggestions I provided earlier, I would love to see all available weapons displayed somewhere on the screen. They could probably just be lined across the top, and having quick access to all weapons would be a lot less disruptive to game play than having to pull up a menu and select a new gun. When a weapon is empty, it would be nice if the game defaulted back to the standard gun.
One thing I really like about the game play is the different types of bad guys. In many shooters you have lots of enemy types that look different but act relatively the same. Now I’ll grant you that the primary goal of most of the villains in Last Stand Stan is to take you out, as well it should be. However, not everyone just rushes you. There’s one ship that will fly in to a certain point and then put up a shield, both making it hard to destroy and blocking your shots against other enemies. Another ship teleports in at random locations, often right in front of your face. One ship circles you, moving in a bit closer with each revolution. There are a couple that I’ve only seen so far in survival mode as well, but I’m curious to see what other plans of attack the enemies have to offer.
The graphics aren’t bad at all. I like the ship designs, and there are a few nifty effects like when the one ship raises its shields or when your ship explodes (not that you want to see that very often, of course). The sound effects are pretty typical space game effects. The music is incredible. I had the game going one day while I was in a different room, and I was trying to figure out what movie was playing on the TV – there’s no TV in the room where the music was coming from! Sadly, the music only plays during the menu. Why oh why do developers torture us like this?
I think Last Stand Stan has a lot to offer. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s quite where it needs to be yet. It’s nice that the game is not just another shooter, I like the variety of enemy types, and the unlockable weapons are cool (though the rockets are basically pointless because of poor aiming abilities). If the controls were tweaked and the UI rearranged a bit, I think LSS would be more of a contender. The difficulty level on Survival mode could be tuned down just a bit as well. And PLEASE give us music during the actual game play. Pretty please? I believe Last Stand Stan is one to keep your eyes on, but I’m not sure that it’s ready to play with its contemporaries yet.
Overall Score: 6/10
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