iFighter good on gameplay but lacks missions

Posted: May 9, 2009 in Shooter

The iTunes store has an overabundance of vertical shooters with a variety of themes and control options. Many have probably grown a little weary of this genre which of late has seen little in innovative gameplay. So when iFighter with its non-descriptive name entered the genre, it wasn’t exactly something that made me giddy right off the bat. But, after playing it a bit, iFighter has won me over in principle, but the lack of missions really hurts it.

iFighter follows a World War II theme where your mission as an ace fighter pilot is to destroy several weapons prototypes developed by the Nazis. From a visual and audio standpoint, iFighter provides a good looking set of environments with some adrenaline-pumping music, but overall, nothing that sets it apart from other vertical shooters.

The game has 4 missions with the first mission unlocked. There are 3 levels of difficulty—easy, medium and hard—along with 3 control scheme options—joypad (virtual joystick), swipe (touch), and motion (accelerometer). Testing the control options, my personal preference is the motion (accelerometer) since it works extremely well based on the overall layout of the game screen. The swipe (touch) is also very responsive with no lag in moving my fighter. However, based on the placement of the gameplay dashboard, your finger will inherently block your view of some important information, which I will get into later. Of the group, the joypad (virtual joystick) was the least effective for me because of its location and small size.

Also included are a calibration option and sensitivity setting. You also have an autofire option, and when turned off, you tap the screen to fire or keep your finger on the screen to fire continuously. From an options standpoint, the dev has done a nice job of incorporating features that should be standard in any shooter game, but often is not.

In terms of weapons, your fighter can acquire several types including straight bullet, flash bullet, bomb, and sidekick. Sidekick brings in wingmen to fight alongside your fighter, and you can stockpile a supply of these. Outside of the bomb weapon, these weapons automatically engage once you pick them up, which I don’t particularly like. My preference would be an option that allows me to switch out weapons at my discretion, but that’s not a big deal. One of the big things you notice during gameplay are gold and silver stars and medals that appear after destroying enemy targets. This is similar to the system used in another vertical shooter Sentry Alpha. These provide bonus points and can significantly increase your score. In addition, a health power up is also available that boosts your fighter’s health and repairs damage.

The gameplay dashboard I mentioned is located at the bottom of the screen and shows current and high scores, health, # of bombs and sidekicks, along with the bomb button. As I mentioned earlier, if you use the swipe (touch) control option, your finger partially blocks your view of most of this information especially your health bar. One option may be to move the dashboard to the top of the screen, but in its current placement, it’s useless.

The gameplay can be frantic because of all the action, and depending on which control scheme you use, entertaining. It goes without saying that with autofire off, the game becomes more challenging and from playing at the medium and hard levels, the action does ratchet up significantly from the easy level. My main concern is that there are only 4 missions even though they feel like long missions during the game. Even if you’re a casual player, there’s a good possibility you will finish the game in a short period of time (I suggest you play at medium or hard). And for the hardcore gamer who wants to blast through in one sitting, this may be an even shorter journey.

Visually, iFighter holds it own against the likes of Sentry Alpha and SkyForce Reloaded among others in terms of polish. And the control options namely with swipe (touch) and motion (accelerometer) are some of the best. The dev shows a lot of potential, but the main thing holding iFighter back is the lack of missions. I strongly suggest you try the lite version which is Mission 1. That provides a good example of the length of each of the other 3 missions available in the full version. If you’re into vertical shooters, then iFighter at the current price is an easy decision. Otherwise, there are better choices.

Albie Meter: 3 stars (average)—needs more levels

Check out my impressions on TouchArcade at http://toucharcade.com/2009/05/09/wwii-top-down-shooter-ifighter-strafes-the-app-store/

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