Remember Asteroids? Back in the day, it was the only option when it came to top-down shooters.
With the recent flood of top-down space-type shooters to the App Store, circuit_strike.one takes its crack at the arcade classic. Developer h.grenade may have been a bit overzealous in its attempt at reinventing the wheel. Overloading the title with graphics has led to serious framerate issues and its control scheme demands far too much patience for casual gamers.
CS.one drops players into a computer as a miniaturized ship with the goal of hacking the network by destroying a succession of objects, like shields and energy cores. Think “Tron meets Fantastic Voyage.” Along the way, there are Geometry Wars-style monsters floating around to attack you.
Controls are offered in both basic and advanced flavors. Basic is what the majority of people will want to use, as it features a standard round aim stick, a thrust/brake pad and fire button. It controls just like its Asteroids ancestor, floating around a zero-gravity environment based on the strength of its rocket boosters. Controlling the ship is much harder than it sounds, and it will no doubt take some time and a whole lot of dying–and we really do mean a lot–to get good enough to make it past the third level. It really just comes down to figuring out how to use the brakes.
The advanced control scheme seems needlessly complicated, removing the aim pad and replacing it with a rotation mechanic built into the touch screen. Most gamers would probably prefer actually playing the game rather than trying to dial in the sensitivities.
Aesthetically, this game is absolutely gorgeous. The levels are beautifully rendered, with an almost layered, top-down presentation. The game shows a sense of humor by throwing around lines of nerd jargon after every death like, “all ur base r belong to us” or the ever-popular “pwned.” Enemies are synchronized with the bass line of the soundtrack, and it really is a sight to see them pulsing along to the techno beat.
But therein lies the biggest handicap for CS.one. With all that audio-visual weight, the game is most definitely pushing the upper boundaries of the iPhone. Framerate drops are frequent, especially in the harder difficulty levels. After unlocking the Hardcore mode, expect plenty of full-on crashes. The inclusion of a “bullet time” slow motion feature, activated when you shake the device, makes sense, because if you don’t go into slow-motion yourself when things get hairy, the game will do it by itself via framerate drops and you’ll probably die. We seriously doubt that’s how you’re supposed to use the bullet time, but it works.
This major hiccup mars what would otherwise be a beautiful, challenging top-down shooter with an old-school feel. Learning the control scheme will most definitely demand your patience, but getting good enough only to see a succession of framerate drops and crashes will no doubt have you frustrated over the amount of time you’ve spent. Until an update corrects CS.one’s issues, you’d better really know what you’re getting into before taking the plunge on this one.