The title “Sky Combat” is a bit misleading. You don’t just pilot a helicopter in this game– you also take command of a tank and heavily armed speedboat. It doesn’t matter which vehicle you use, because Sky Combat is a fun little shooter from start to finish.
Taking a top-down view similar to flying games like 1942: First Strike and Siberian Strike, Sky Combat nails all of the important aspects of the genre. It looks great, controls beautifully, and has just the right degree of challenge. Sure, there’s not much of a story, and you never actually learn who you’re gunning down, but does it matter?
Don’t worry, the rain will probably put that out.
The polished visuals are our favorite part of Sky Combat. The environments are beautifully detailed, from the finely textured sand and rock to the blue water capped with white waves. The game looks especially sharp on a Retina device, making it one of the best-looking top-down shooters you can buy for iOS.
Great graphics wouldn’t mean much if Sky Combat didn’t control well, but we weren’t disappointed here, either. You can choose from a range of tilt and touch-based controls, and the one we found that worked the best was tilt. You can calibrate the tilt to whatever angle you’re holding your device, and we almost always felt we had control over our vehicle, even in tight spots.
The one exception to this is the dodge button, which makes your helicopter lift straight up (towards you) to evade rockets and machine gun fire. Occasionally, this button wouldn’t work, which led to a few needless wrecks.
The Love Boat soon will be making another run.
As we mentioned, you don’t just pilot a helicopter in Sky Combat. The tank and boat missions are fun distractions, but they’re tricky because you’re unable to move up and down. Still, they add new challenges, like avoiding buildings in the tank and the shoreline in the boat, so we were happy to take them for a spin.
Overall, Sky Combat is a decent challenge, even if you’ve played a few top-down shooters. There are three difficulty levels, and each has their own online leaderboards through Chillingo’s Crystal network. When you’re done with the main game, you can take the helicopter through an endless mode, which we thought was a great addition.
Sky Combat is a well-polished gem in an App Store full of sub-par shooters. The most important aspects of a great shooter are all in place, so we just hope the developers continue to add even more content and modes. For example, we’d like a survival mode for the boat and tank as well. Pick this one up for a dollar– you’ll be glad you did.