Air Combat - Above and Beyond


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Reviews

Above and Beyond Air Combat Review

You can always tell when something looks good, but you never know how it’s going to handle until you actually get it home. Luckily, that’s not a problem with Above and Beyond Air Combat, and you can tell a lot of work has gone into making sure the flight controls back up those glitzy screenshots.

Using the accelerometer to guide your craft in and out of turns and loop de loops has never been more fun, and the open world environment gives you plenty of freedom to let loose in the sky. The world here consists of 62 islands, and you’ll largely be free to tackle them in the order of your choice, though a few will be locked until you conquer the adjacent islands.

This freedom is the game’s biggest strength and weakness. The adventure of setting out towards the island of your choice can be exhilarating, and this keeps the game from being frustrating if you find one island too difficult to beat. On the other hand, there’s no story to keep you going– just your own determination and the prospect of earning more credits.

That mountain is going down.

This wouldn’t be as much of a problem if the islands were all quite unique in their own way, but this isn’t the case. Most of them consists of a few turrets, some air units and maybe an aircraft carrier. Having dozens upon dozens of islands to conquer is good on paper, but in practice it can get pretty tedious when you realize you’ve done this countless times already.

Upgrading your ship provides a much needed change of pace, and there are quite a few to customize to your liking. You can equip shields, boosters and weapons to your ships, and each ship can hold various types of upgrade. You not only need credits to purchase the parts, but you need to conquer a certain amount of islands before the upgrades are available.

The lock-on missiles, for instance, aren’t unlocked until about a third of the way through the game. This makes the early going especially slow, as you’ll chase down elusive aircraft for minutes at a time, whittling away at their health with machine guns and lasers before they finally die. Often when it came down to us versus one other fighter, the enemy would just turbo boost away from us and make no effort to fight back, adding to the frustration.

Meet the Phantom.

While the single player campaign isn’t as inspired as it could be, the gameplay is still solid, and it’s refreshing to tackle the islands in the order you’d like. OpenFeint integration keeps track of online scores and achievements, and there’s a separate arcade mode that lets you fight endless waves of enemies or test your flying and shooting skills in hoop and target filled obstacle courses.

Despite its beautiful graphics, open world gameplay and awesome flight controls, we can’t give Above and Beyond Air Combat our highest score because of its plain campaign mode. We do recommend you give it a try though, because it’s a game you may want to come back to time and again, just to conquer one more island.

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Previews

Above and Beyond Air Combat Hands-On

We’ve been playing through a beta version of Josh Rosen’s sequel to SciFly, called Above and Beyond Air Combat. So far, the 3d graphics, unlockable incentives, and high degree of customization have snared us in its net.

As Josh explained to us in our first look preview, Above and Beyond is all about the fun of flying around, shooting things. The levels are tiny islands in the middle of an ocean, and each island is unlocked until you can conquer the one next to it. Some islands open up a few different paths for you, and the design, while simple and consistent, has some interesting variations.

For example, one island may have a small bay where an aircraft carrier is hidden. Another might be a high-rise plateau, with anti-air turrets scattered on top. However, we’ve only encountered three enemy types’” anti-air turrets, enemy jets, and aircraft carriers. Giant boss battles would also be a great thing to see, but they’re not going to be in this game.

Still, the steady progression of more difficult islands makes for some extremely addictive gameplay. Each island conquered gives you energy points that can be spent on new weapons, armor, or speed boosts. Since you unlock new planes as well, the combination of planes and accessories will let you customize your plane’s look and feel. We found ourselves right at home with a pair of green lasers and a centrally mounted machine gun.

Flying in Above and Beyond felt very natural, with responsive tilt controls and only a few on-screen buttons. Your plane also has a regenerating shield that will recharge if you stay out of the line of fire, so swooping in for an attack and jetting away quickly is a common strategy.

Beyond Conquest mode, you can also jump into a Survival mode, where you’re in the middle of the ocean in frantic dogfights against increasingly more aggressive enemy waves, and a time-trial speed run, lined with rings to fly through and targets to shoot. Your high score from these two modes can be shared online using Open Feint.

We’re impressed with Above and Beyond so far. The flying mechanics feel very polished, and while the level and enemy design are not overwhelmingly varied, this is still shaping up to be a solid shooter. It’s in beta now, but Above and Beyond Air Combat should be on the App Store within a few months.

Previews

Above And Beyond Air Combat Preview

We just spoke with 17 year old Josh Rosen, whose original game SciFly impressed us so much that we invited him to be on our podcast a few months back. Today he told us all about SciFly 2, now called Above and Beyond Air Combat, and also shared with us some brand new screenshots and a new trailer.

Above and Beyond is “designed to be a very arcade-style air combat game,” Josh told us. “I wanted to focus on the fun of shooting down enemies with tons of cool weapons. That’s how SciFly 1 started out. Above and Beyond expands on that much more, though.”

“The game is built around an open-world conquest structure where you fly in real time from island to island over an open ocean,” Josh said. “Conquering as you go, of course. Islands vary from tropical to volcano to glaciers and such. You gain credits and energy from each island you capture, which gets into the other main feature of the game: Customization.”

According to Josh, you will be able to upgrade your ship’s weapons, armor, and thrusters. The aircraft have different stat multipliers, and also different socket configurations, letting you add more upgrades. Currently, there are ten aircraft, and 15 weapons in the game.

Josh also explained to us how the game will play. “Basically, rotation is controlled by the accelerometer,” he said. “The screen is divided into four large buttons (fire, alt fire, boost and slow down). So each quadrant of the screen is a big button, you don’t have to carefully place your fingers on something small.”

“So with accelerometers controls, they’re fairly different from other flying games like FAST and such,” Josh said. “Instead of controlling pitch and roll, you control pitch and yaw. So when you tilt the device to the left, you aim left, similar to the way a First Person Shooter might work.”

Josh also tells us that Above and Beyond will include two arcade modes, including a time trial mini-game called Gauntlet that features obstacles and enemies. The other is a Survival mode, where you have to survive an onslaught of enemies to achieve a high score. Above and Beyond will also use Open Feint for score sharing and achievements.

We’ll bring you more on Above and Beyond Air Combat, including hands-on impressions, as soon as we can. The game is expected to come out in late September.