Strike Fighters: Top Gun in the palm of your hands!
Over the last three decades flight simulator games have improved in leaps and bounds. There are so many variants now that even Wikipedia lists separate categories for combat flight sims, general flight sims and space simulators. So now that we’ve got such powerful phones in our pockets it’s no surprise that we would eventually have fully decked out combat sims. Read on to hear about the ace product made by the developers at Third Wire Productions.
You pick a fighter plane, jump straight into the war zone and then try to obliterate everything on the radar. It sounds pretty straightforward because it is… it’s so geared up towards this instant action that there isn’t even much of an explanation. The menu screen is just your plane selection and then you’re thrown straight into the deep end.
The control of the plane is through your accelerometer: so tilt left and right to roll the plane and tilt up and down to pull the nose of the plane up and down. Although this accelerometer-joystick is hard to grasp initially, the controls are fairly easy to understand (… as long as you’ve played a flight sim before!). If you touch the on screen button on the right hand side then you’ll start firing bullets directly in front of you. There’s also a throttle controller on the left hand side.
At this point, the seasoned fighter pilots out there are probably thinking… what about the Head Up Display (HUD)?… Without this HUD then shooting the enemy is like some mysterious sixth sense ability… it’s next to impossible. But fear not… this is only a game, so this isn’t uber realistic. A guidance cross hair will project where the plane will be and if you fire near this little red circle then you’ll blast the enemy to smithereens.
The game starts out in the Cold War in 1954. Then the game will advance one year for every 5 kills. Every time you advance a year, you earn 1 unlock key which you can use to unlock newer aircraft. If you get promoted then you’ll be rewarded with more keys. The level promotion is based off the total accumulated score and not limited to years – so kill more enemies within the rounds to unlock more planes. Your starting planes will only have machine guns, but if you invest the time in the game then you’ll eventually be able to get auto lock-on missiles!
Room for improvement
Personally I find the accelerometer-joystick control method quite flawed. The point of the joystick is that you’re meant to be able to pull off aerial techniques (like barrel rolls) easier. They’re already quite hard to execute because of the spinning element involved but to then compound the difficulty with a weird phone/view orientation makes almost impossible to pull off. Of course these fancy flying methods aren’t absolutely necessary, but the purist would argue they’re critical in dogfights. The result is that you’ll find you start your movement in a very distinct way so you only roll or only pitch up/down. It would be nice to have the option of onscreen controls.
Rating: 4/5 Another Unity engine success where the gameplay is as stunningly good as the graphics. The core game is top notch and easy to understand instant action. Hopefully Third Wire Productions will continue to release updates which improve the controls and expand the gameplay.
Strike Fighters Tips and Tricks
Some unexplained features:
- The tile sensor will automatically center every time you play. But the button at the top center of the screen is also for manual re-centering during mid-game flight.
- The fastest manoeuvre is to pull up or dive. So the fastest way to turn is to first rotate the plane ninety degrees so that you’ll dive up or down in the horizontal plane. (This might be obvious to some people, but not everyone.)
- You don’t always have to shoot directly over the projected red circle flight path. If the enemy is close then you just have to shoot around the enemy. This is particularly the case if you and the enemy are flying at each other.
- The planes do have different handling characteristics – if you want to understand them then focus on the rate of pulling up or diving or the rolling. Once you find the plane you’re comfortable with then try specialising in it. Don’t just use your unlock keys unnecessarily.