Assault Squadron Hands-On Preview

There’s a reason why the Assault Squadron trailer made the cut as one of our featured videos last week. Not only does this shooter sport a serious visual package, but the scale and density being hinted at seem extremely promising. Looking like a supercharged update of Gradius, Assault Squadron seems to have all the ingredients to be something special. Fresh off of spending our weekend plowing through a preview build, it’s time to share our hands-on impressions.

Par for the course for intergalactic shooters, Earth has come under attack by an unknown enemy force. With our planet’s defense systems torn to shreds by precise enemy aggression, the only hope for salvation comes with the Assault Squadron, a trio of aircraft with a bevy of powerful weapons and firepower.

Unlike other iPhone shooters that rely on a mountain of text to relay the plot, Assault Squadron goes in a different direction. Using voice-overs in conjunction with gorgeous cutscenes, you’ll want to follow along with the drama. So many games whiff on executing these kinds of story elements, but the folks at Binary Mill seem to have nailed it.

The action is so intense and frenetic that you will not want to blink when playing Assault Squadron. With the dozens of ships, lasers, and powerups all on screen most of the time, playing this shooter is almost like a twitch exercise. Three ships are selectable, each with their own special characteristics and unique secondary weapons. During gameplay, the ships fire automatically, with options to launch rechargeable special and bomb attacks in your holster.

Dying early and often is something you’ll come to grips with early on. With the seemingly endless amount of enemy fire coming your way, it’s impossible to dodge with the precision you’d get from a physical joystick. That being said, virtually every type of control scheme is included. Tilt controls, 1:1 touch controls, and a virtual joystick ensure everyone should have a comfortable way to play.

How Assault Squadron manages to pull off all its bells and whistles while maintaining a brisk 60 FPS clip is a mystery to us. Along with the beautiful chaos that happens throughout, big boss encounters conclude each level. All of them are larger than life, and it’s a bit challenging figuring out the best approach to take ‘em down. On top of that, the game switches from a landscape to portrait view on some missions.

We’re curious to see if Assault Squadron can keep on surprising us from beginning to end. Luckily, we won’t have to wait too much longer. Expect our usual review treatment when Assault Squadron hits the App Store soon.