Erwin Jansen’s new iPhone app, Mortal Skies, puts you in the middle of World War II as a pilot; in fact, you are part of the last line of defense against an invading hostile power. Your missions are simple: destroy the enemy to unlock a new level using your plane, aerial maneuvers, and lots of firepower (there are seven levels in all, all across different terrains; the last is a bonus level). You can control your plane either by touching and swiping across the screen, or by using the iPhone’s accelerometer; change the control mode in Options. There is also a slider bar to adjust the difficult level.
No matter what you choose to control your plane, the objective is to dodge the enemy’s firepower and attempt to shoot them down (including huge bosses at the end) at the same time. Firing is automatic, so all you have to worry about is the steering. There are 10 weapon upgrades/power-ups in all, as well as two types of bonuses and three types of achievements to be collected in each level. Instant bonuses (ex: Health, Rockets, etc.) are activated as soon as you pick them up, and all other bonuses (Invincibility, MegaBomb, etc.) are activated upon double tapping the screen. Achievements are categorized as Bronze, Silver, and Gold; collecting all the Silver ones will give you bonus planes to fly, while snagging all the Gold achievements will unlock the bonus level mission.
Mortal Skies is a classic shoot-’em-up arcade-style game, with one keyword: ridiculous. Ridiculously great graphics, ridiculously fantastic concept, and ridiculous lag. Everybody’s dreamed of flying a fighter pilot, and this game app almost delivers. The planes and terrains are realistically designed, the background music and sound effects exciting, the gameplay fast-paced and so very fun–or it would be, if only the controls weren’t so frustrating, especially the touch control mode. The amount of lag just increases the difficulty of the game, and it’s hard enough, even on easy levels. It is nearly impossible to shoot down all the planes, as it’s basically an entire air force (plus ground support) against…you. Not only do they badly outnumber you, they’re far more maneuverable and take many hits to kill. These two are the only real problems holding this game app back from true greatness, but don’t let that stop you from having a go at achieving that childhood dream.
Update: With the 1.1 update, Mortal Skies is much improved: it has a lot less lag and difficulty, both of which increase playability tenfold. There are still small amounts of lag when there are a lot of players on the field, but it is nowhere as bad as before–and hey, you can actually advance to the stages where that happens. Your main concern is still only flight (and what fun it is), but perhaps in future updates a choice for switching between the weapons you pick up would be a good addition. And yes, this bears repeating: this game app is still ridiculously awesome. Fly on, pilots.
Here is a video demo of the Mortal Skies – Modern War Air Combat Shooter app on the iPhone
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