iPhone Game Review: Assault Squadron Reviewed by JadeDragon
Assault Squadron is a shoot 'em up game embellished by Starship Troopers style cut scenes that integrate a story into a short but very well designed gameplay. In a distant future, a hostile spaceship invades out planet. These visitors don't hide their intentions and they unleash the attacking fleet as soon as they enter our orbit. You must find the evil invaders and destroy them to save humanity and Earth.
For players who wish to follow the story in Assault Squadron, the Campaign mode takes you on a journey of fighting in space that's crowded with enemy fighters, space ships, and then to the Earth's surface then all the way to the Earth?s Core. For those who can care less about the story, you can go straight to the Arcade mode, but you don?t get to see the pretty cut scenes. The game has three difficulty levels; each offers enough incentives for playing the game in that level. You start the game with only 2 fliers to pick from with two more waiting to be unlocked. The most effective fighter ships are the ones with guided missiles that will seek and destroy targets that your front firing gun can?t get to.
Each mission isn?t very long, usually contains a dogfight and a large boss at the end of the level. There are total of 6 levels and curiously some levels are in landscape mode which makes the right-handed players struggle with the left-handed control. But if you don?t mind the menu sidebars in landscape orientation, you can keep playing the game in portrait mode because the enemies come from the same direction as in the levels that play in portrait mode.
Assault Squadron doesn?t have a huge collection of enemy units but there is enough to keep the game interesting and fun. There are the usual kamikaze fighters whose firepower is both laughable and easily evaded, and there are those Zeppelin like bombers with more powerful weapons and sturdy armor, and then there are also stationary firing towers and turrets that have very strong firepower. There are even enemy units in insect?s forms with metal armor that perhaps are paying homage to Starship Troops. The bosses come in very different shapes with their own unique weapons and protections. You don?t feel like you are fighting the same boss over and over.
Any Shoot ?Em UP gamer knows that the control of the game can make or break even the most beautifully designed game. Assault Squadron doesn?t take chances on the control front: it offers 4 types of controls including finger control, thumb control, virtual joystick control and accelerometer control. Two touch controls are basically true touch control where your ship goes where your finger touches, and relative touch control (thumb control) where you can use bottom of the screen to control the ship so that your hand/finger doesn?t block your view of the game. Both touch controls work very well, in comparison the virtual joystick control has a noticeable lag in ship?s movement and the accelerometer control takes some getting used to. Firing is automatic in all control schemes.
Other than surviving the levels, the game also lets you collect orbs that the enemy ships drop. The gold ones are particularly valuable in adding bonus to your score. Chain hits also get you some bonus scores and your ?B? power that eliminates all threads near your ship for a short period of time. The orbs are a bit distracting in the beginning as they are mixed with incoming enemy fire, but after a few levels, you will get used to spotting them. The game offers both local scoreboard and global scoreboard via Crystal.
Graphics & Sound
Assault Squadron has impressive graphics with every ship looking sharp and every background detailed. The ship design deserves the most praise as it offers distinctive enemy units including very imaginative bosses as well as your own ships, all sharply rendered. The backgrounds, though simpler than Shoot ?Em Up games such as Siberian Strike, provide clear battlegrounds that?re not cluttered with non-playable environment competing for your attention. Each level takes place in a very different looking location than the last, a sign of good level design. Cut scenes are short but sweat, as if they were snippets of a movie trailer. Menu screens are well organized and easy to use.
Assault Squadron has upbeat techno background tracks that fit the gameplay well. Since the game isn?t long, the BMG doesn?t get a chance to become old. The game has very nice sound FX bits as well including ship firing sound, explosions and voice dubbing on your weapon upgrade level. The audio package feels complete and complements the visual and gameplay very well. The game offers options to turn both music and sound FX off if it?s preferred.
Assault Squadron is a highly polished game that wraps a frantic gameplay in a very refined graphics and audio composition. Though the game has only 6 levels, short even by Shoot ?Em Up standards, three difficulty levels and 4 different ships warrant several play-throughs, and not to mention fighting for a spot on the global high scoreboard. The hardcore shoot ?em up players will want to pick it up for the eye-catching graphics and tight gameplay, and the casual gamers might like the Easy level in Assault Squadron that offers endless ?Continues? that will surely see you to the end of the game.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Sharp and beautiful graphics, smooth cut scenes. Sound: - 4.5 - Techno music and space themed sound FX fit together very well. Controls: - 4.5 - Four types of controls, 2 touch screen controls work well. Gameplay: - 4 - Awesome experience that sees frantic fighting with an integrated story, but game is too short, leaving players wanting for more levels.
Playing Hints and Tips:
- Ships that have guided missiles are most useful. The missiles attack targets out of reach or even off screen.
- In boss fights, look for spots where flashes white when hit. Those are the places you are doing the most damage.
The UN Squadron was closer to a SNES game look while Assault Squadron is a lot more modern. It's not side pushing kind of a game. It's more like Siberian Strike or Raiden without the busy scenes. The ship can go anywhere on the screen in any direction.