Game Reviews

Sky Force 2014

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| Sky Force 2014
Sky Force 2014
| Sky Force 2014

There are moments when Sky Force 2014 bares its teeth and shows you how good it could be. When it's at its sharpest, dallying close enough to bullet hell to be almost indistinguishable, this top-down shooter is a riot.

It has neat ideas, some gorgeous-looking graphical flourishes, and an upgrade system that means your ship is getting better as your fingers get more nimble.

But there are also moments when Sky Force cowers. There's an air of grind to proceedings, and quite often you'll find yourself blasting away at the same wave of fighters over and over again.

Those moments of near-greatness make the lapses back into mediocrity all the more galling. Rather than just enjoying what the game has to offer, you'll find yourself frustrated at the thought of what might have been.

Shoot out

The game is a one-finger shooter that sees you weaving through waves of bad guys, blasting them down with your automatically-firing cannon.

You start off as a super-powered pilot who belts out rays of death and can take a beating, but after a couple of minutes you're relegated to a basic ship that you need to upgrade yourself.

The shift is pretty jarring. You go from dealing out death with a cackle, to pew-ing out measly little bullets that don't look like they'd dent a plant pot.

The first level proper is a simple affair, but you'll end up grinding through it at least a couple of times to unlock the next one.

You need medals to progress, and simply getting to the end of a section and blowing up the boss isn't enough. Didn't kill enough of the bad guys, or took too many hits? Back to the start of the level with you.

A little plane

Amidst this frustration there are some bright lights. Hostages are dotted around the levels and you can rescue them by hovering nearby. It adds some tension to proceedings, because dodging too far away cancels the connection. Grabbing all of them usually unlocks a medal as well.

The boss battles are where the violence is at its finest. You're weaving through showers of neon projectiles trying to target small cannons on the back of huge ships. Reach a boss with low health and the tension is almost palpable.

But it's when you reach them for the second or third time that things start to lose their sheen. Arcade games are supposed to be instant, and the back-tracking and repetition really damages the flow of the game.

You want to be leaping to the next battle, continuing your legend by shooting some more stuff until it explodes. Instead you have to traipse back over the same escapade you just finished. It's like telling a story twice at the office party.

Shot through

Sky Force 2014 fizzles rather than explodes. There are bad ideas littered through the game, from a wait-timer for your upgrades to a block of regenerating lives that you chip away at as you play.

It all feels like it's designed so you take as long as possible to get back to the super-powered killing machine you were at the very start of the game.

And that's a real shame, because those glittering moments of creative carnage are something to savour.

Sky Force 2014 is a middle of the road shooter in a world where bombast and spectacle rule the roost.

It's not terrible, and you'll probably find something to enjoy in its pretty levels, but you'll spend your time with the game longing for a game with a little more bravado.

Sky Force 2014

A game that sparks occasionally but never manages to catch fire, Sky Force 2014 is a pretty average shooter in a world where that's not good enough
Harry Slater
Harry Slater
Harry used to be really good at Snake on the Nokia 5110. Apparently though, digital snake wrangling isn't a proper job, so now he writes words about games instead.