Game Reviews

Armageddon Squadron

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Armageddon Squadron

I've never been in the RAF, but if I joined and were assigned to a section called Armageddon Squadron I'd be having serious doubts about my safety.

Polarbit's World War 2 dogfighting game is looking slightly long in the tooth now, getting on for three-years-old in its original iPhone form, but can it enjoy a new lease of life on Xperia Play's pull-out gamepad?

'No', is the short answer. Read on for the long one.

Fight-night flight

In the original version, still accessible by pushing the gamepad back in and going plain Android, you controlled the plane's movements through the accelerometer.

Tilting the phone left and right would see the plane darting in the corresponding direction, deftly steering you away from enemy fire or, more often than not, deftly steering you straight into a mountain. Two areas of the screen would allow you to cycle through weapons and fire them at your targets.

An incredibly generous auto-aim took over for machine guns, which was just as well given that tilting the phone and following the queasiness- inducing camera would have made shooting moving targets nigh-on impossible.

However, with Xperia Play controls it's another matter. The accelerometer now does nothing, which makes your plane easier to control, but at the expense of some of the excitement.

Weapon-switching is now assigned to the face buttons, which is a big help, making switching tactics mid-battle significantly easier. The auto-aim now feels really out of place, however: when you have this degree of control, locking on to planes on the edge of your screen takes a lot of the challenge away. Except when it decides to miss.

Porting a game stripped down for touchscreens back to a full-sized gamepad often leaves a hollow experience, and that's ultimately the case here.

Split-fire

Time has not been kind of Armageddon Squad's once good looks, either. Draw distances are disappointing, with mountains popping up pretty late in the day, and all the graphics have a grainy, muddy quality to them.

The sound has fared even worse, with the monotonous engine hum and weaponry providing a sparse and uninspiring backdrop.

On the bright side, the missions have stood up well and feel nicely varied, seeing you take down enemy planes, protect areas, and in one highlight prevent a train from reaching its destination using only bombs.

Armageddon Squadron is decent, but Xperia Play's physical controls serve to highlight rather than resolve its problems.

Armageddon Squadron

A decent but uninspired arcade dogfighting game which comes slightly undone when exposed to the scrutiny of Xperia Play controls
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