Levitar 2 is a fantastic old-school gravity shooter in the tradition of of Gravitar and Thrust. It features colorful vector graphics, and the procedurally generated landscapes are never the same.
Back in the early 80's, I was a video game junkie. Of course, there were no smartphones or tablets, and the home computers were so pitifully weak that all the real gaming took place at arcades. There was always a line to play the big name classics like Pac Man and Frogger, but I generally walked straight past them in search of the vector games. Instead of traditional raster monitors, these games featured vector monitors that could only display simple lines. One big advantage they had, however, was that the images were crisp, bright, and very high-resolution. Games like Asteroids, Space Duel, and my all-time favorite: Gravitar, all ran on monitors like these, and I loved them. Fast-forward 30ish years, and I still love a good vector game (modern screens are now hi-rez enough to display vectors correctly), the most recent of which, and one of the best I've seen is Levitar 2.
Gameplay is pretty straightforward, fly around, shoot enemies, collect things, don't crash. The thing that sets Levitar apart, however, is its faithful recreation of the arcade experience of yore. First, you must maneuver with precision while resisting gravitational forces from every direction (think: caverns). Second, you must engage enemies in this cramped environment. Third, you must be efficient in how you fly as fuel is limited. Yes, this game is hard, but not in the way that most modern games are. You see, getting good at Levitar 2 is not a matter of memorizing landscapes, patterns, and gameplay (every game is different). Instead, you must become "ONE" with your ship, mastering its controls like its an extension of your own body. This may sound cheesy, but the first time you negotiate a narrow passageway while instinctively shooting enemies and collecting fuel, you'll know what I mean. As you play, you will amass credits that can be spent not only on extra fuel, but also on ship upgrades. Here's the important part: credits and upgrades persist between games! Of course, if you run completely out of fuel AND credits, there is nothing to stop you from starting fresh so new players should feel free to have fun and play recklessly; early game mistakes will not haunt you. Levitar 2 supports both MiFi and iCade Controllers so if you're not a fan of tilt controls, you have other options.
As I mentioned earlier, Levitar 2 features vector (line-based) graphics, which I happen to love. The lines are crisp, the colors bright. The explosions and effects, however, are decidedly low-tech looking in this day and age, and may not be to everyone's tastes.
There is no music, and the sound effects can only be described as old school. These 8-bit effects fit the game nicely, however.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
As with most games on the App Store these days, IAPs can make or break a game. Thankfully, you can easily play this game as its meant to be played without plunking down a single penny (even the game is free). However, Levitar 2 features one of the most generous IAP models I've seen thanks to the fact that every ship upgrade is permanent. This means that if you decide to throw the developer a few bucks for his hard work, you will be able to permanently enjoy whatever upgrades you buy. Compared to most of the rent-to-own game models out there today, this is quite refreshing.
Levitar 2 is a fantastic reimagining of an early 80's arcade game classic. Every aspect of this game works well, even the IAPs. If you're at all into retro-gaming, I recommend you give Levitar 2 a try. Why not? Its free!
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Fantastic vector graphics that practically pop off your screen.
Sound: - 3 - Not a lot here aurally, but what is there is faithful to the genre.
Controls: - 4 - Tilt-controls that work surprisingly well, although a sensitivity slider would be appreciated.
Gameplay: - 5 - Retro-gaming at its best.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Spend your first few games blundering around and figuring out the controls. Once you feel like you're getting the hang of it, start a new game to refresh your credits, and then start building up your ship. Your first upgrade should be the Dual Cannon, and your second should be the Ship Upgrade.
Developer: Les Bird
Release Date: May 8, 2014
Price: Free with IAPs
Buy App: Levitar 2 - Vector
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
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