Game Reviews

Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy

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Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy

The nearest most of us will get to the cockpit of a fighter plane is when one of the noisy buggers flies overhead and makes us spill our tea.

Sudden sonic booms aside, video games give us a chance to recreate the less homoerotic moments of Top Gun, strapping ourselves into flying death machines and raining bullets and missiles on anything that turns red in our HUD.

Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy is the latest attempt to bring the thrill of the super-sonic dogfight to the smallest screens, and whilst it's a complex and sometimes unwieldy beast, there's some rewarding air-combat action awaiting anyone willing to tame it.

Top guns

The game starts with a frankly overwhelming tutorial, which takes almost as long as some of the campaign sorties to complete. In it, the intricacies of piloting are slowly but surely revealed to you.

The pitch and yaw of your battle jet are controlled by tilting your phone in the required direction, while an on-screen joystick lets you speed up, slow down, and make more dramatic turns.

Weapons are displayed as buttons on your HUD, and tapping them unleashes storms of lead and beautifully smoke-trailed rockets.

You can tap on a button to eject, let the plane take control while you're soaring between missions, deliberately stall to fool the enemy, and check all around you with some nimble-fingered swiping.

Iron eagles

At first you'll spend more time careening into the pleasantly modelled scenery than pulling off Maverick-style bird-flipping manoeuvres, as you struggle to come to terms with the baffling range of controls you need to remember.

Slowly but surely, though, things start to click, and you'll find yourself zipping between waypoints, deploying flares to avoid enemy missiles, and shooting down any bogeys that dare to try and chance past your killbox.

The campaign offers a reasonably interesting story of conquest. You'll be flying out over cities, seas, and Arctic wastes, trying out your new found skills against pilots, ships, and convoys of trucks.

Once you've completed that, there are plenty of single-player modes to get your teeth into, ranging from simple dogfights to team deathmatches and flag-capturing sorties, some of which act as primers for the game's excellent online multiplayer.

Hot shots

There are ranks to be earned, planes to unlock, and a whole sky to explore here, all presented in gorgeous 3D. The rattle of gunfire and the distant explosions of downed enemies make a fitting soundtrack for what is a remarkable aviation experience.

This is tough arcade action at its deepest, a game that slowly reveals its layers as you get a handle on it. For all of its complexities, it avoids the staid traditions of the simulator in favour of quick-blast gunfights and adrenaline-fuelled violence.

Sometimes, especially at the start of the game, the sky will feel like a lonely place as you fumble around, trying to line up a shot. If you're willing to put in some time and effort to really get to grips with the control system, though, you'll find one of the tightest air combat games available on iOS.

Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy

Whilst it pours the information on pretty thick to start with, once you've flown a few sorties Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy becomes a brilliant airborne battler