Bombshells: Hell’s Belles Review

Can’t get enough of blowing up the evil minions of T.O.O.L.? Glu’s new aerial combat game takes the action of Gun Bros– and its outlandish weapons– to the skies. If you don’t mind some of the more annoying aspects of freemium games, it’s a wild ride.

Bombshells is something of a spinoff to Gun Bros, since it’s set in the same universe and features the female pilots who appeared in that game’s loading screens. The brash title and graphics play up the pilots’ sex appeal, of course, but it’s with a 1940s pin-up style that is more charming than annoying. There’s nothing particularly offensive here, especially since you spend a lot more time looking at planes than people.

The planes are something to look at, too. Bombshells maintains the gonzo art style of Gun Bros and offers up a hangar full of stylish planes to fly. In this respect, the game is a lot like the classic video game and board game franchise Crimson Skies; the offbeat designs of the planes and weapons add a lot of fun to the game.

Coming in hot.

Free players won’t get to fly all the planes, of course. A lot of the gear is is behind the in-app purchase paywall, and Glu isn’t shy about charging a lot of money for the best items. The most expensive planes cost a thousand ‘Skybucks,’ which will set you back at least $25 in the real world. At that price, those planes had better live up to their ‘Invincible’ billing!

Fortunately, the plain old reviewer-budget planes fly just fine. The controls are simple and intuitive– you steer by turning your device, then boost speed, brake, and fire your weapons with well-placed on-screen buttons. You can barrel roll to escape locked-on missiles, loop-the-loop to get behind troublesome enemies that are on your tail, and swipe downwards to pull a quick 180-degree turn.

This last move is especially useful, since your air battles are held in very close quarters, so the environments feel a little cramped. Ace fighter jocks may not have any problems, but it can be difficult for ordinary mortals to disengage from the fight and maneuver into a better position.

May Floater rest in peace.

The single-player campaign story is thin but provides the hooks for a variety of challenges. Any given mission may see you take on waves of bad guys, shoot up specific targets, or protect your own ground forces from destruction. There is a variety of enemies to fight, from small drones to nigh-invulnerable juggernaut dirigibles, plus an assortment of handy power-ups and easter-eggs scattered around each environment.

The missions get difficult, especially around boss levels, and the game strongly encourages using premium currency to gear up or buy the services of a wingwoman. When you die, the game also pulls a dirty trick by showing you rare equipment drops that you will lose if you don’t pay premium currency to revive your character. That said, the levels are also well-paced and fun to play through.

Multiplayer is not as much fun. While the game makes an effort to standardize loadouts so high-spending players won’t dominate, the difficulty curve for 3D aerial combat is steeper than that of a first-person shooter or dual-stick shooter. New players will spend most of their time getting outmaneuvered and shot to pieces by more experienced players, which can be frustrating.

In the end, though, that’s a minor problem. Bombshells: Hell’s Belles has a lot of inventiveness and style to recommend it, and enough variety to entertain you while you build up your T.O.O.L-busting skills.

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