It’s been, oh, a little over two hours since the last dual-stick shooter hit the App Store, so I doubt you’ve been wanting for a game like Infinity Field [$1.99]. But I’m digging what Forze Field is doing with its dual-stick joint enough to bring it to your attention. Sure, it’s yet another Geometry Wars [$.99] offshoot, yet what it lacks in originality in the sound and visuals department, it makes up for with clever modes and mechanics.
There’s no real starting point in Infinity Field, but I think the campaign is a beautiful place to find your legs. As a whole, it’s paced well, allowing you get a sense of the shooting, the AI, and the different power-ups without stress. But it’s also a great place to find some continuity and a sense of progression -- two things a lot of dual-stick shooters lack.
Of course, there are a healthy amount of one-off modes to choose from if campaign isn't your thing and these modes are really unique or abstract takes on the genre. "Snake," for example, puts a tail on the end of your ship that steadily grows as you kill. The catch here is that you aren’t blowing up stuff with bullets. Instead, you’re using a laser leash that connects the ship to the tail, cutting enemies while moving around in circles.
"Zombie" is a great example of the more abstract of the offerings. This mode has you firing a special attack stream that incapacitates the vast majority of enemies, but doesn’t clear them off the map. Interestingly, the only way you can kill these “dead” foes is by hitting a bomb power-up that appears every so often.
As you’d expect, your finger or thumb can sometimes get in the way of the action, but there’s some cool mitigation of this common bugbear. Levels are presented at a tilt, giving you a great angle on the action. Also, as soon as you take your both fingers off the iPad, the game auto-pauses, giving you time to re-adjust without causing you problems.
I should note that there are some awesome two-player options in the one-off modes as well, including some neat iPod-to-iPad connectivity. If you don’t have rich friends, relax; two people can play on one tablet, too, and it looks rad, though presumably a little clumsy in practice.
You’ll find more “good” peppered throughout the design. I think the power-ups in particular are solid. Most won’t change your approach to the core game, but there are a couple, like the leash, that radically change-up the pacing mid-game.
I’m also a fan of the AI behavior and scripting. Sure, there are a couple of obvious genre throwbacks in terms of enemies, but there’s enough unique stuff here to freshen up the experience.
The one spot I’d criticize are the visuals in particular. While the particle stuff on the explosions are great, I think the art comes off as a little flat. The game just doesn’t pop like it should. Also, the look is very Geometry Wars, which is a bummer. There's still room for creative interpretations of retro-style shooters.
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