Joshua Rosen / Axios Games, the iPhone developer who previously brought us Sci Fly: Dogfight [App Store] has recently released his followup title, Above & Beyond Air Combat [App Store]. This new flight combat game offers considerably more depth and customization over his freshman title.
Above & Beyond Air Combat features three different play modes. The two arcade modes, Gauntlet and Survival, serve as quick-play, pick-up game sessions. Gauntlet sends the player down treacherous, windy canyon passes with the goal of flying through all the floating loops arrayed about the course. Survival inflicts wave after wave of enemies upon the player with the goal of staying alive as long as possible and racking up points. The core playmode, however, is Conquest. It challenges the player to liberate island after island- -- 60 in all -- using the 12 available aircraft (unlocked based on progress) in an open-world playfield scenario -- smooth transitions, no load time. The game offers single player combat only across three levels of difficulty (Recruit, Veteran or Ace).
A core aspect of the game is aircraft customization. Each aircraft has its own set of flight behaviors as well as a number of equipment sockets which can be filled with weapons, thrusters, or various other upgrades earned across any of the game's three play modes. Weapons include machine guns, lasers, flak cannons, missiles, ray guns, and more.
The game features accelerometer flight controls, which work particularly well, with on-screen buttons that control thrust boost, slow flight, and weapons firing. The options screen provides turn and pitch sensitivity settings along with the ability to invert vertical controls depending on your flight control preferences. Achievements add an incentive to build skill, while Open Feint integration lends a social aspect to the title.
Making progress in the core Conquest mode involves destroying all ground-based installations found on each island, as well as taking down air defenses bent on defending said island. The action here would not be called "break-neck". The first few islands' ground and air defenses are rather light and easily dispatched. From there things get progressively more difficult with the appearance of air craft carriers, but I never encountered any scenarios that were truly hairy in my time with the title, playing in Veteran mode, the middle of the game's three difficulty settings.
The well-tuned control system coupled with the unique, free-roaming gamespace mechanic and well done visuals make this an enjoyable arcade-style aerial shooter for casual air combat fans. (The trail of smoke and firey destruction of enemies you've taken down is rather satisfying, I must say.) However, the relatively mild pace of the game along with the somewhat repetitive island-to-island mission structure may not be quite enough for some of the more dedicated aerial combat fans.
Our forum readers are loving the game and the developer, who has chimed in on the forum post, indicates that new arcade modes and various other updates are likely in the cards, moving forward.
App Store Link: Above & Beyond Air Combat, $1.99 (Price Dropped to $1.99)