iPhone Game Review: Aeropack
Reviewed by Mike 'Todwurst' Wagner
If you've read my other reviews you know I like to be surprised by the games I play, so all I knew about Aeropack before playing it was that it had a Steampunk theme. I love the Steampunk genre, and the detail put into the creations showcased around the net. I was pumped to play. Unfortunately my enthusiasm was short lived. Read on to find out why.
You're the proud owner of a steam powered jet pack, which you used to collect gems as fuel for a future trip to the moon. Using the pack you navigate through a maze of girders, ladders, and renegade robots, collecting gems until the door to the next level opens.
Your jet pack has a limited fuel supply which you refuel with single and double packs scattered throughout. Killer robots cruise along the floors while mysterious killer cogs bounce up and down in place, and cannons attempt to blast you from the sky.
The level design is decent, and good timing is required to reach many of the gems. The controls, however, feel very muddy and make the game extremely frustrating. Flying a jetpack, one can expect the influence of inertia to slow your response time, but when you're on the ground the response should be snappy, a la Mario, and it's not. Running on the platforms is like jogging in your bathtub, an idea that will only end in tragedy.
Ladders are placed within the levels to allow you to conserve jetpack fuel, but the ladder graphics don't accurately reflect the area occupied by the ladder objects and the climb button (which also functions as your jetpack button) can be ineffective when you're half on and half off the ladder.
Aeropack's 30 levels go through a linear progression, unlocking the next level upon completion of the current one. The addition of a timer or medals would increase the replayability of the game, as there is no reason to revisit a level once you have completed it.
The most important thing you can remember while playing the game is "Don't DIE!". While this may seem obvious, the punishment you can expect is not. Upon death you must wait as the level reloads, and the reload times are painfully long. Not quite long enough to make a sandwich, but long enough to grab a drink from the fridge.
I quite liked the style of the title screen, but the game screens still felt like the graphics were in the early prototype stage. A bit more polish (and brass - after all it's Steampunk) would make the game pop.
The background music is a catchy riff which loops all too soon, and with a noticeable cutoff. A seamless transition between loops is much needed here. You can turn off the game music, but there is no option to play music from your own library. I was really looking forward to jetting around the levels while listening to Front Line Assembly's 'Mind Phaser'.
Aeropack lacks polish, but has promise. As the first iPod game I've played where the controls got on my nerves, I had to put the game down and come back to it more than once. But all of my complaints could be addressed relatively easily. As it stands I would not recommend the game at it's current price point, but it's still something to watch for in the future. In the meantime, check out the review for 'Teh Internets', another Insurgent Games title.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 2 - Ho hum for steampunk. I want to see shiny brass and elaborate creations.
Sound: - 2 - Repetitious and in need of editing.
Controls: - 2.5 - Jetpack controls are fine, but ground controls need some work.
Gameplay: - 3 - A promising platformer with rough edges.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Use the ladders whenever possible to conserve fuel.
Do a quick blast through the level on the first try to see where the gems and obstacles will be.
Developer: Insurgent Games
Release Date: Feb 17, 2009
Buy App: iTunes App Store
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