Any intergalactic civilisation that only sends a single fighter to repel the invading alien army deserves to be destroyed, in my opinion. The sheer stupidity of such a plan defies common sense, yet that's exactly what happens in deep space shooter Star Rangers.
In this 3D space war extravaganza, you take to the cockpit as the galaxy’s last hope to secure the survival of as many space stations as possible. What you’ve got going for you in Star Rangers - that most lone fighter pilots can’t boast - is the sheer size of outer space spreading the vast number of invaders quite thin.
Much of the game’s appeal comes not from diving head first into a throng of alien spacecraft, but in strategically plotting a course around the many sectors in order to protect your far flung stations.
There are three equally important screens when playing Star Rangers: cockpit, radar, and galactic map. Although you can't be blamed for wanting all mashed together in a single head-up display, keeping them separate ensures a clean interface throughout.
The most important screen is obviously the cockpit. Here you navigate through the immediate sector of space. Tilting your handset flies, while shooting is done via taps of a button. You can also set your speed using a sliding acceleration bar.
It's all easy to use. The controls have something of a hand steadying feature, so small movements and natural flinches don’t register with the accelerometer, though careful aiming still works a treat.
Locating your enemies in this 3D space can be tricky, though, which is where the radar on the next screen comes in handy. This shows your sector of space as a cube with axis grids inside – your ship is in the centre and encroaching craft appear as red dots. Tapping these radar blips automatically aligns your ship with them, so once you return to cockpit view you’re flying directly toward your enemy even if they’re not yet in visual range.
The final screen is a map of the galaxy, spit into segments and showing where you, your space stations, and enemies are located. Double-tapping a sector warps you to that location so you can take out any enemy units passing through. Enemies often move by the time you come out of warp, which presses the need to carefully plot out travel.
The 3D visuals might not be particularly detailed, but they’re impressively smooth and equipped to handle the turbulence of space combat. You're never up against a great many enemies, of course, and even though Star Rangers has more to offer than just blasting away at alien spaceships, the game would definitely benefit from more dynamic combat.
Additional tasks could help push it to the next dimension, such as trading or maybe attacking an alien space station in some kind of retaliatory, bottle-neck boss battle. As it stands, anyone more interested in the zero-gravity space fighting might find this game comes up wanting.
So Star Rangers might not be the high octane shooter it appears to be from the App Store listing, but what it lacks in action it makes up for in originality and design.