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iPad Game Review: Meteor Blitz HD
      #37654 - 06/29/10 10:15 AM

iPad Game Review: Meteor Blitz HD
Reviewed by Tom Slayton

To say that Meteor Blitz HD is a dual-stick shooter is like calling the iPad an oversized iPod Touch. It's technically correct, but it completely leaves out the best parts. Meteor Blitz HD takes what works in most dual-stick shooters and hones those features to a fine edge while adding lightning-fast gameplay, polish and that elusive je ne sais quoi (French for: "I don't know what") that makes good games great.

Gameplay

Meteor Blitz HD?s spiritual ancestor dates all the way back to the stone, er, Golden Age of video games; yes, I?m talking about Asteroids, released in 1979. Your job is to relentlessly blast everything that moves while dodging those things you haven?t blasted yet. Your ship is maneuvered by your left thumb and your gun is aimed with your right. The controls are highly customizable and when I say ?customizable,? I mean CUSTOMIZABLE. Don?t like where the D-Pads are? Move them. Don?t like what the buttons do? Reassign them. All-in-all, the developers have gone the extra mile to ensure that gamers will have nothing to complain about regarding the controls. However, as an avid retro-gamer, I still yearn for the old ?left/right/thrust/fire? controls of yore, but I?m learning to adapt. Inexplicably, however, there are two ?settings? screens, accessible from different places within the game. Graphic settings can be accessed from the main menu, however, to adjust the interface, you need to launch, and then pause the game. I?m sure the developers have a good reason for this, I just can?t figure out what it is.

There are a variety of weapons available to you, including a plasma gun, flamethrower, and ice cannon. The plasma gun is your general purpose weapon while the flamethrower works best against ice meteors and the ice cannon is good for fire meteors. Smart bombs will clear the entire screen (a bit overpowered on the iPad as the screen is so much larger than the iPhone?s but who?s complaining?) and, of course, the very cool gravity gun, which allows you to grab an asteroid and swing it around, cutting a swath of destruction as it goes. Thankfully, this last weapon can be automated for gamers such as myself who would normally have to take out their chewing gum to pull off something like that.



The Arcade Mode has 30 levels to keep you busy. There is also a Survival Mode, which will relentlessly throw asteroids and enemies at you crack under the pressure or break for dinner; which, as a matter of fact, you can do because the game automatically pauses whenever you lift your thumbs from the screen. This is always a welcome feature, but in a game like this it?s absolutely necessary as it?s only a matter of time until your nose itches causing you to go down in a blaze of glory.

Graphics

The graphics in Meteor Blitz HD are truly excellent. If you've ever played the iPhone version then you'll be right at home here. The explosions are colorful without being jarring, the background features lovely parallax scrolling (easily disabled if it's not to your liking), and everything is lightning-fast. The best thing about playing this game on the iPad, however, is the greater field of view. This one feature is worth the price of admission. It makes the gameplay much more enjoyable as the claustrophobia often associated with playing a game like this on the iPhone simply isn't there. Meteor Blitz HD oozes with quality and Alley Labs has done a great job optimizing it. Even when the screen is loaded with enemies, I experienced no slow-downs or stuttering.

Sound

The sound effects in Meteor Blitz HD are pretty standard fare. Explosions, lasers, etc., you've heard them all before, although they are nicely sampled and varied. There is nothing that stands out here except, of course, for the music. The soundtrack is a lively techno number with menacing overtones. It is perfectly suited for this game. In fact, Meteor Blitz HD is one of the few games where I actually leave the music on as it does a wonderful job of drawing you into the game and ramping up the excitement factor.



Conclusion

Meteor Blitz HD is an excellent dual-stick shooter with great graphics and a highly customizable interface. This beautiful and polished game will have you coming back for more and the almost nonexistent load times means that you will have a hard time putting it down. When you do, however, you'll find that the game's instant pause and automatic saved game features will have you back in the saddle without missing a beat. As dual-stick shooters go, this is the one to beat.

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics: - 5 - Sharp and vibrant graphics, with great effects and fast animation
Sound: - 3 - Standard-fare sound effects with a good techno musical score
Controls: - 5 - A great use of the dual-stick interface. Controls are responsive and customizable
Gameplay: - 5 - If you like dual-stick shooters, this is one of the best you?ll find. If not, this may change your mind.

Playing Hints and Tips:

You need to start a game before you can customize the controls. It's worth taking the time to do, however, because the initial button placements will most likely be too spread-out for most people. Remember to use the right tool for the right job (not all weapons work equally well with all targets). Stick with the Arcade Mode at first. The difficulty ramps up more evenly.




App Facts:
Developer: Alley Labs
Release Date: June 3, 2010
Price: $4.99
Buy App: Meteor Blitz HD


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