The App Store has its fair share of top-down shoot 'em ups, with the overwhelming majority of them feeling very same-ish and not really doing much to set themselves apart (bar a few notable exceptions such as the recent Espgaluda II). Newcomers to the iOS, Art In Games, are looking to break that mould with the release of AirAttack [App Store] [Lite].

AirAttack departs from the traditional 2D platform of vertical shoot-em-ups and opts for a fully realised 3D world. This is what gives the game its own identity, as you'll see enemies not only fly towards you, but loop-the-loop back over you, too. What's more, Air Attack has an emphasis on bombing runs and laying waste to anything on the ground-- something made all the more satisfying when that silo beneath you actually crumbles to smithereens.

The exceptional models and animations really help sell the 3D gameplay. Textures are vibrant and detailed across the board, which really helps distinguish the many different level themes. Coupled with the awesome flight and crashing animations and specular and light maps at work, Air Attack is a visual treat on any device.

Despite all this eye candy, AirAttack ran silky smooth on the 3GS device we tested it on (the game supposedly running well on 2nd gen devices and up too, according to the devs) . The options for controlling your aircraft cover the gamut of tilt, touch, relational touch and on-screen joystick; leaving everyone happy. Controls are responsive and straightforward, with on-screen icons activating the many power-ups collectable throughout the level and a simple double tap activating your regenerating bombs.

Between and throughout the levels is a checkpoint system that doubles as an item store. Items are purchased with funds collected from enemy drops and cover standard upgrades such as cannon firepower and rockets; and special upgrades such as wingmen, lightning guns and even additional lives. The latter levels will see you with enough money to buy power-ups that slow down time, or give a protective shield. The more powerful upgrades have to have certain conditions met before becoming available, functioning alot like an achievement system.

There are 8 lengthy missions divided up into several checkpoints each and a whopping 58 different enemies to defeat. The 8 boss encounters at the end of each level are the fight to look forward to most though, as they're screen-spanning, multi-part battles that are quite challenging even on the normal difficulty. There is both an easy and hard mode though if you're finding it overly difficult or feeling masochistic, respectively.

The only setbacks to AirAttack's otherwise winning formula is that occassionally, enemy fire seems to just disappear into your aircraft, making it hard to see if you've been hit or not. It also feels at times that your hitbox is a bit larger than what it appears on screen, causing you to take hits where you think you've avoided them. The other issue we had was that AirAttack only offers a local high score system; and when online leaderboards are fast becoming the norm, this may disappoint some.

Even still, it's hard to look past AirAttack, particularly if you're a shmup fan. It's a challenging visual spectacle with solid gameplay elements backing it up throughout. Bosses are great, powerups are numerous, and your tenacity is rewarded as it should be in these games by added firepower and lastability as you progress without perishing. Graciously, there's a lite version available too, so there's no excuse not to at least give AirAttack a go if you're interested.

App Store Link: AirAttack, $0.99, AirAttack Lite, Free.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Xurkey

    I was sold until I read about the lack of online leaderboards. What is the point of playing an stg game without online high scores?

    I don't understand this, who would play this without wanting to compete against the world? Come on guys, it's an stg, the heart of these games revolve around getting the highest score possible. Major oversight!

    • araczynski

      umm, not everyone in the world gives a crap about online leaderboard/scores/achievements/etc.

      some of us just like to blow crap up :)

      i'm more curious about whether there will be an ipad version coming? or will this be updated to be universal?

      • Xurkey

        You obviously airnt a big stg fan so you wouldn't understand what I'm talking about. High scores mean EVERYTHING in stgs, without them, their is no point to playing them. I mean for people who can't compete any stg with 1cc maybe leaderboards airnt your thing, but that alone proves your ignorance towards the genre.

        It's really a damn shame. Update me TouchArcade when they add online leaderboards.

    • Adams Immersive

      I don’t care about online scores. I do want to track my scores, achieve new personal high scores, and see some progress—but that can all be done locally.

      Out of all the players online, what fraction of them will have the satisfaction of being near the top of the leaderboards? Very few—the rest are somewhere down in the vast sea of “everyone else”—which makes it boring for me to even look at online leaderboards. Sure, I can see that I’ve progressed from rank 20,200 to 20,150, but I can see the same skill improvement in a local leaderboard.

      • Adams Immersive

        To add: a brand-new game (or one that never gets popular—and might still be a great game) has a less-competetive public scoreboard. Fewer players. So you can, then, be one of the few and the proud. But it’s still a small number of people having that enjoyment, not a large number—and the satisfaction is less because you’re only BEATING a small number of people. Not that exciting to me.

        I don’t object to online high scores, and it’s great that some people enjoy them. But they aren’t something I’d ever demand. A game should be fun for it’s OWN sake, not just for the report at the end. The game play should outweigh external stuff—and for .99, fun game play is hard to turn down.

      • Lukeb

        The developer of a critically acclaimed, moderately successful game using a popular leaderboard service once mentioned in the forums that the ratio of purchased copies of the game to online enrollees was about 10 to 1. The more difficult the game, the greater the likelihood is of there being a vast pool of players who didn't play well enough to bother registering in spite of sincere, if not dedicated effort. Also, sometimes the standard distribution of global scores for a given mode is such that a small jump in score can produce a sharp improvement in rank, from the thousands to the hundreds, at which point you're up against a bloc of of players who may all be making a similar error which, once noticed and avoided, lobs you into the top 100's better. If the total number of registered players is small to begin with, then it might be consoling to remember that those ranks are likely to contain some tester and developer entries in addition to the scores of players may have started competing the moment a game was released.

      • Xurkey

        STG's are hardcore games to begin with that normally only appeal to a certain niche. This niche of people most certainly desires online scoreboards because that's what they play the game for, to get the highest score possible and to be #1.

  • Xurkey

    I was sold until I read about the lack of online leaderboards. What is the point of playing an stg game without online high scores?

    I don't understand this, who would play this without wanting to compete against the world? Come on guys, it's an stg, the heart of these games revolve around getting the highest score possible. Major oversight!

    • araczynski

      umm, not everyone in the world gives a crap about online leaderboard/scores/achievements/etc.

      some of us just like to blow crap up :)

      i'm more curious about whether there will be an ipad version coming? or will this be updated to be universal?

      • Xurkey

        You obviously airnt a big stg fan so you wouldn't understand what I'm talking about. High scores mean EVERYTHING in stgs, without them, their is no point to playing them. I mean for people who can't compete any stg with 1cc maybe leaderboards airnt your thing, but that alone proves your ignorance towards the genre.

        It's really a damn shame. Update me TouchArcade when they add online leaderboards.

    • Adams Immersive

      I don’t care about online scores. I do want to track my scores, achieve new personal high scores, and see some progress—but that can all be done locally.

      Out of all the players online, what fraction of them will have the satisfaction of being near the top of the leaderboards? Very few—the rest are somewhere down in the vast sea of “everyone else”—which makes it boring for me to even look at online leaderboards. Sure, I can see that I’ve progressed from rank 20,200 to 20,150, but I can see the same skill improvement in a local leaderboard.

      • Adams Immersive

        To add: a brand-new game (or one that never gets popular—and might still be a great game) has a less-competetive public scoreboard. Fewer players. So you can, then, be one of the few and the proud. But it’s still a small number of people having that enjoyment, not a large number—and the satisfaction is less because you’re only BEATING a small number of people. Not that exciting to me.

        I don’t object to online high scores, and it’s great that some people enjoy them. But they aren’t something I’d ever demand. A game should be fun for it’s OWN sake, not just for the report at the end. The game play should outweigh external stuff—and for .99, fun game play is hard to turn down.

      • Lukeb

        The developer of a critically acclaimed, moderately successful game using a popular leaderboard service once mentioned in the forums that the ratio of purchased copies of the game to online enrollees was about 10 to 1. The more difficult the game, the greater the likelihood is of there being a vast pool of players who didn't play well enough to bother registering in spite of sincere, if not dedicated effort. Also, sometimes the standard distribution of global scores for a given mode is such that a small jump in score can produce a sharp improvement in rank, from the thousands to the hundreds, at which point you're up against a bloc of of players who may all be making a similar error which, once noticed and avoided, lobs you into the top 100's better. If the total number of registered players is small to begin with, then it might be consoling to remember that those ranks are likely to contain some tester and developer entries in addition to the scores of players may have started competing the moment a game was released.

      • Xurkey

        STG's are hardcore games to begin with that normally only appeal to a certain niche. This niche of people most certainly desires online scoreboards because that's what they play the game for, to get the highest score possible and to be #1.

  • http://www.artingames.com Art In Games

    Thank you for nice review :) We working on it ! Onlinie score with many other features will be included in new version ;)

    • http://www.twitter.com/thewindburn Peter Lettieri

      Great to hear, definitely looking forward to the update!

  • http://www.artingames.com Art In Games

    Thank you for nice review :) We working on it ! Onlinie score with many other features will be included in new version ;)

    • http://www.twitter.com/thewindburn Peter Lettieri

      Great to hear, definitely looking forward to the update!

  • Spongebob

    I don't see why they mention Espgaluda II, again... It's not even unique, it's a port that's even choppy to play.

    This game looks good though.

    • http://www.twitter.com/thewindburn Peter Lettieri

      Yeah but when you're looking for a shmup that departs from the same formula seen everywhere else, you have to admit that Espgaluda II does stand out. There aren't too many bullet-hell shooters at all for starters, so it kind of does itself a favor there in that respect, notwithstanding (and with full respect to) your individual taste.

      • John

        They would be better off referencing games everyone can play if all they want is to show a common trait. rRootage online is bullet hell, free, and runs on all devices. Plugging ESP2 isn't needed, and to most of us unhelpful.

      • http://www.betomachado.com Beto

        They mention Espgaluda II because it's not only unique, but one of the best shooters of all time - ask in any shmup site, forum or thread. Regardles of where you ask, it'll ALWAYS be in the top 5, maybe even top 3.

    • Xurkey

      First off the port of Espgaluda II is great, it sounds like you're just a big cry baby because you can't 1cc it even on easy. Learn to play stgs.

      • Walrus

        Xurkey, you've been nothing but rude and condescending toward anyone who disagrees with you. If people don't care about online leaderboards, that's their prerogative, and if you DO care, that is yours. You certainly don't know what everyone wants and are in no position to denegrate others for expressing their opinions politely.

        I've been playing shooters for 25 years and I could care less about online leaderboards. I play games for fun, not to try to inflate my ego.

  • Spongebob

    I don't see why they mention Espgaluda II, again... It's not even unique, it's a port that's even choppy to play.

    This game looks good though.

    • http://www.twitter.com/thewindburn Peter Lettieri

      Yeah but when you're looking for a shmup that departs from the same formula seen everywhere else, you have to admit that Espgaluda II does stand out. There aren't too many bullet-hell shooters at all for starters, so it kind of does itself a favor there in that respect, notwithstanding (and with full respect to) your individual taste.

      • John

        They would be better off referencing games everyone can play if all they want is to show a common trait. rRootage online is bullet hell, free, and runs on all devices. Plugging ESP2 isn't needed, and to most of us unhelpful.

      • http://www.betomachado.com Beto

        They mention Espgaluda II because it's not only unique, but one of the best shooters of all time - ask in any shmup site, forum or thread. Regardles of where you ask, it'll ALWAYS be in the top 5, maybe even top 3.

    • Xurkey

      First off the port of Espgaluda II is great, it sounds like you're just a big cry baby because you can't 1cc it even on easy. Learn to play stgs.

      • Walrus

        Xurkey, you've been nothing but rude and condescending toward anyone who disagrees with you. If people don't care about online leaderboards, that's their prerogative, and if you DO care, that is yours. You certainly don't know what everyone wants and are in no position to denegrate others for expressing their opinions politely.

        I've been playing shooters for 25 years and I could care less about online leaderboards. I play games for fun, not to try to inflate my ego.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Zendorphin TouchChatterbox

    ^^ Great to hear you are adding online leaderboards. Will take you at your word and purchase this. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/Zendorphin TouchChatterbox

    ^^ Great to hear you are adding online leaderboards. Will take you at your word and purchase this. :)

  • Big Albie

    Solid review Peter! This is one of the better shmups I've played lately, and the graphics definitely set it apart from others. If you can overlook the lack of an online scoreboard for the time being, Air Attack is worth checking out.

    • http://www.twitter.com/thewindburn Peter Lettieri

      Thanks BA! Glad to see you popping by still, let alone taking the time out to comment. Muchos appreciated :)

  • Big Albie

    Solid review Peter! This is one of the better shmups I've played lately, and the graphics definitely set it apart from others. If you can overlook the lack of an online scoreboard for the time being, Air Attack is worth checking out.

    • http://www.twitter.com/thewindburn Peter Lettieri

      Thanks BA! Glad to see you popping by still, let alone taking the time out to comment. Muchos appreciated :)

  • rich_952000

    I'm generally a "online leaderboard is a must" type gamer, but honestly, this game has been getting it's fair share of play on my phone w/o them.

  • rich_952000

    I'm generally a "online leaderboard is a must" type gamer, but honestly, this game has been getting it's fair share of play on my phone w/o them.

  • Ovalprocess

    This is a fantastic value for 99 cents! The iphone version looks great on the iPad, and a native iPad version will be submitted to the App Store within a week, I believe.

  • Ovalprocess

    This is a fantastic value for 99 cents! The iphone version looks great on the iPad, and a native iPad version will be submitted to the App Store within a week, I believe.

  • LeopardGecko

    Anyone else experiencing problems with the shop? I press and press and press but it never shows. Any ideas?

    • LeopardGecko

      Replying to myself.

      Figured out you had to fly onto it. Didn't know that. :p

  • LeopardGecko

    Anyone else experiencing problems with the shop? I press and press and press but it never shows. Any ideas?

    • LeopardGecko

      Replying to myself.

      Figured out you had to fly onto it. Didn't know that. :p

  • http://www.facebook.com/Zendorphin TouchChatterbox

    Any chance of implementing a Level Select option so we can jump to the one we've gotten up to? Or some Continues. The 'Game Over' is the only thing annoying about the game - stellar job otherwise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Zendorphin TouchChatterbox

    Any chance of implementing a Level Select option so we can jump to the one we've gotten up to? Or some Continues. The 'Game Over' is the only thing annoying about the game - stellar job otherwise.

  • http://www.artingames.com Art In Games

    There is Continue button in main menu which one will run the game from last checkpoint. If you will start New Game once you have completed some levels before, You will be albe to choose from which one level you want start :)

  • http://www.artingames.com Art In Games

    There is Continue button in main menu which one will run the game from last checkpoint. If you will start New Game once you have completed some levels before, You will be albe to choose from which one level you want start :)

  • http://www.youtube.com/reviewsbysteve Steve

    Graphics looks like one of the best for this type of game.
    Instant buy for me!

  • http://www.youtube.com/reviewsbysteve Steve

    Graphics looks like one of the best for this type of game.
    Instant buy for me!

  • Rad

    Will this become a universal App or will there be a separate HD version?

  • Rad

    Will this become a universal App or will there be a separate HD version?

  • Jas

    I too want to know if it will be a universal app pls?

  • Jas

    I too want to know if it will be a universal app pls?

  • http://www.artingames.com Art In Games

    There will be separate HD version for iPad which one we planning to release next week :)

    • err404

      That's a shame. I have passed up many games due to them not being universal apps. I could understand them being separate purchases if there was substantial unique content, but that's sadly almost never the case.

  • http://www.artingames.com Art In Games

    There will be separate HD version for iPad which one we planning to release next week :)

    • err404

      That's a shame. I have passed up many games due to them not being universal apps. I could understand them being separate purchases if there was substantial unique content, but that's sadly almost never the case.

  • george

    Looks decentish, but really try espgaluda 2 by the masters, cave.

  • george

    Looks decentish, but really try espgaluda 2 by the masters, cave.

  • araczynski

    put me down as one that's tired of espgaluda2 being held up as the pinnacle of shmups or something. wouldn't buy that even if its hits 0.99.

    can't wait for the ipad version of this.

    • Xurkey

      I guess you don't know what a good STG is.

    • george

      Maybe i have higher standards, like cave ;)

  • araczynski

    put me down as one that's tired of espgaluda2 being held up as the pinnacle of shmups or something. wouldn't buy that even if its hits 0.99.

    can't wait for the ipad version of this.

    • Xurkey

      I guess you don't know what a good STG is.

    • george

      Maybe i have higher standards, like cave ;)

  • http://apprelease.com RaiderRich721

    very nice game, a steal at .99 if you ask me!

  • http://apprelease.com RaiderRich721

    very nice game, a steal at .99 if you ask me!

  • DeInit

    I'm surprised the comparison isn't with Syberian Strike, since it's a 3D shooter like it and actually seems to share a lot of design ideas with it.

  • DeInit

    I'm surprised the comparison isn't with Syberian Strike, since it's a 3D shooter like it and actually seems to share a lot of design ideas with it.

  • Xurkey

    Okay, I'm going to do it. I'll buy it out of whim since the developer said online leaderboards are coming in an update. By any chance could you spill the beans on what service the leaderboards will be on ( OpenFient, Crystal, Plus+, etc) or something you guys come up with? I'll write a review after I complete it.

  • Xurkey

    Okay, I'm going to do it. I'll buy it out of whim since the developer said online leaderboards are coming in an update. By any chance could you spill the beans on what service the leaderboards will be on ( OpenFient, Crystal, Plus+, etc) or something you guys come up with? I'll write a review after I complete it.

  • Steverd

    LOVE the blimp explosions.
    My vote for the BEST explosion in any iPhone game so far.

  • Steverd

    LOVE the blimp explosions.
    My vote for the BEST explosion in any iPhone game so far.

  • RandySox

    Awesome shooter, usually not my cup of tea but the graphics and the evolving and intense combat really got to me. Really gets the adrenaline pumping a bit.

    Lags pretty badly on my 1G Ipod Touch though, even with graphics set on low.
    Anyone with the same experience or is it just me? ?ow does it fare on higher end machines, the review says it runs flawless but i want more opinions.
    Maybe I should upgrade my machine, almost everything has a bit of lag on it nowadays.

  • RandySox

    Awesome shooter, usually not my cup of tea but the graphics and the evolving and intense combat really got to me. Really gets the adrenaline pumping a bit.

    Lags pretty badly on my 1G Ipod Touch though, even with graphics set on low.
    Anyone with the same experience or is it just me? ?ow does it fare on higher end machines, the review says it runs flawless but i want more opinions.
    Maybe I should upgrade my machine, almost everything has a bit of lag on it nowadays.