By April 6, 2010

Android review: Armageddon Squadron


To date there have been many addictive Android games and they have all relied on content over style. Rarely has a game struck me for it graphical accomplishments. Armageddon Squadron is ambitious but does it soar to new heights or crash and burn?


The instant you load Armageddon Squadron you are greeted with an inviting and nicely rendered splash screen. As with many games you are given the option of disabling sound effects, just in case you are playing under your desk in work.


The main menu gives you are real taste of the high level of design. On top of the single player campaign is a multiplayer option. You can play over a local network or against a randomer on the Internet. At this point of time there were two servers available, and the official Polarbit server. At that I could only bring up one game with a whopping 2 out of a 4 possible players… and by the time I had logged in those 2 players had gone. I’ve only played online twice and whilst the challenge was there it didn’t really entice me to play over the single player campaign. I set up my own Room to entice folks to come and play and… no one did.


There aren’t too many options. Typical sound options, for which I should not that the music is excellent and the in game sounds are satisfying.  Those who want a real challenge can invert the Y-axis for fun and the sensitivity of the steering can be altered but at default it works well. All the controls are on screen during play so there is no need for a flip screen options for those excellent lefty’s out there.


The Tutorial is simple. It’s lays out the need for you to shoot and bomb everything.  The Campaign is quite short, 12 missions in all, of course amending the difficultly can lengthen the game dramatically. 4 Time attack course provide a little extra challenge for those who have spent the time mastering the controls. Arcade mode is about as close to sandbox as you can get, pick your map, planes, enemies, time limit and fly! I’ve spent most time in Arcade mode as its the best way to waste 5-15 mins when waiting in the car from a certain someone to pick up milk.


The campaign is a step by step, unlock approach. Complete a mission and you are rewarded with another. Sometimes your energy is not replaced, so you start the mission with the battered plane you ended the last one with. This can be rectified with a quick swoop over the repair yard and the mechanics magically repair your plane with special tools and fairy dust.


Plotlines are … threadbare.


In game graphics are were this is at. Colourful, vibrant and I dare say realistic. It’s not Microsoft Flight simulator but it’s beautifully smooth and remarkably well detailed. The Maps are fairly small given the limitations of the hardware and the draw distance is quite short but this doesn’t impede the game at all.


The controls are simple enough. Your accelerometer provides control and some onscreen buttons do the rest. On the top left is your radar, damage and speed. Swiping right to left over this increases the speed and left to right to decrease. This can be a little cumbersome especially when in the heat of a dogfight and it takes a few goes to get it anywhere between full throttle and slow as buggery. You can’t stall which is a bit of a saving grace.
You can change your weapon on the top right and below is a red circle, the digga digga digga button. Hold it down when an enemy is vaguely in front of you can the machine gun will do a light auto lock and you’ll rattle off a few hundred bullets taking down your adversary quickly.


The detail and backgrounds are not terribly varied from mission to mission. There is a new environment for each campaign and with four missions in each campaign you have enough time to enjoy them and explore a little.


The game gives you some opportunity to fly different planes and the mission types vary from kill the incoming planes to protect a town and my favourite, destroy the train in a bomber.


You weapon load out varies from plane to plane. You can flick between them pretty quickly in flight but when you switch to bombs it’s alters your view point.


In bombing mode you better hope you are not being pursed by an attack squadron as you cannot use defences appropriately.  One of the problems with the game is that there isn’t really any way to tell that you are under fire, let alone taking damage. Your damage falls silently in the background and it’s only when you see smoke from you plane or your engine starts to splutter that you realise you’re taking a pounding.

Armageddon Squadron serves two purposes. Firstly, it’s cool fun for a quick bit of gaming action. With a lot of mobile games not quite capturing the “pick up and play on the bus” aspect Armageddon Squadron manages it perfectly, provided you don’t mind looking like a spaz playing an accelerometer based game.
Secondly, it’s a game to impress you friends with. Who’d have thought you would be able to say that you were playing a World War II flight sim on your phone… that isn’t like 1942.

Of course Armageddon Squadron is available on the iPhone and Symbian devices but when you consider that the iPhone and iPod are an accomplishing gaming platform and the game has been ported onto Android with no sacrifices proves that Android will be an important gaming platform that is still in it’s infancy.

You can get Armageddon Squadron from the marketplace for £2.70-ish (3 Euros.)

Posted in: Phones

About the Author:

Seasoned tech blogger. Host of the Tech Addicts podcast.
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