iPhone Life magazine

Sky Gamblers: Cold War Brings Real Air Combat to iOS [review]

Few video games measure up to the visual standard set in Sky Gamblers: Cold War ($4.99): the detail, the excellent battle effects, the array of modern and vintage aircraft, and game tutorial levels that are more refined than many whole games. Cold War is a game that keeps you spellbound for hours, so make sure to clear off your calendar before you dive into this amazing air combat experience. You won't want to climb out of the cockpit for awhile!!

Cold War's vivid graphics and visuals come at a price. It will eat up your download bandwidth and device storage memory to the tune of 1+ GB, so you might want to clear some space out if you have a lot of games already installed, and grab this one on your PC through iTunes (preferably not wireless).

Before diving in (no pun intended), I recommend you go through the training levels first, which instruct you in flying the aircraft, and using weaps, tactics, takeoff, and landing of the aircraft (even a Harrier vertical takeoff/landing and combat sim). Once you actually get experience in the flying and tactical basics, you can go up against offline computer-controlled players, or online against other real players.

The flying experience is on par with a high-end flight sim program, and the combat quickly becomes a significant challenge. CW gives a taste of how incredibly difficult it is to fly and fight in a fighter plane. Missiles flash by, and shrapnel raps against the cockpit in such a realistic manner, it is mind-blowingly awesome!

You can choose to select accelerometer or d-pad controls, and I found for tighter turning and response, I played better using the virtual joystick (d-pad), especially when I remembered to slow down the aircraft to get inside of my opponent (or accelerate when appropriate). To be honest a real joystick would be the best way to play this game, but alas there are no universal game controllers for iOS that I am yet aware of.

I admit to not yet playing all the modes (the game has like 10), but did play several to include online multiplayer, a few early levels under Campaign (which I barely survived), and the "Protect the Base" challenge (keep enemy aircraft from reaching and blasting your home runway).

Just flying around in Free Flight mode is fun too (though you weirdly can't actually crash). The first campaign level takes you to the skies over Korea piloting an old F-86 Saber--laden with a heavy dose of F-86 against MiG dogfighting—and in the next challenge, you are door gunning (not piloting) from a UH-1 Huey in Vietnam.

The scenery is almost surreal, and some of the aircraft flight characteristics might be sketchy in terms of handling (seemed that flying a modern fighter jet handled much like the F-86), but as I'm not a pilot of vintage aircraft, I really couldn't say for sure. Ammo and missiles are limitless, which can make some challenges easier. 

The Verdict
Sky Gamblers: Cold War is visually one of the finest games I have played. I loved it in every mode of play, and have seen few air combat experiences that get more varied and realistic as this. It does offer the IAPs, which I hate, along with a hefty $4.99 price tag, but the game is visually stunning and I think worth the expense if flying and fighting is in your blood!

Pros

  • Outstanding graphics
     
  • Varied gameplay

Cons

  • Hefty device storage requirement
     
  • Pricey and offers IAPs

 

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Nate Adcock's picture

Nate Adcock is a system and integration engineer with experience managing and administering a variety of computing environments. He has worked extensively with mobile gadgets of all shapes and sizes for many years. He is also a former military weather forecaster. Nate is a regular contributor for the iphonelife.com and smartphonemag.com blogs and helps manage both websites. Read more from Nate at natestera.drupalgardens.com or e-mail him at nate@iphonelife.com.