Game Review: SkyFighter
Release: 22nd September
Genre: Side scrolling shooter/Flight
Developer: Tik Games
Available Platforms: PSN
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Website: http://www.creatstudios.com/games/skyfighter.php; http://www.tikgames.com/
SkyFighter is the eighth console release from TikGames and Creat Studios, in a nod to the old school classic it is a side scrolling shooter. SkyFighter puts you in the pilot seat of several types of planes from the nimble attacker to the destructive bomber. In order to succeed you must learn how to control each of these planes have their own strengths and vulnerabilities.
There are several different modes available, so let’s start with the single player campaign. There are 21 different levels to fight through, each suited to a different style plane. The early missions are simple dogfights; take down the opposing pilots before they shoot you down. These early missions serve as good practice for the flight controls as they can sound quite complex when you try to explain them, but in practice it becomes second nature. If you still have difficulties with the controls, there is a handy tutorial which guides you through the all the different controls.
As you progress your tasks will become harder, in one round you fill have to clear a level of enemy fighters and once complete you will then play the same level as a bomber and will be tasked with clearing the AA turrets and defences. Once you complete the campaign (or get completely stuck as I did on the last level there are two other modes to keep you entertained. Air Combat is very similar to campaign as you are given a set task to achieve. However, you have a little more control over the style of the game as you choose if you want to be a bomber, fighter or attacker each of which has their own specific missions. The final game play mode is the VS mode; sadly I did not get to try this as it is LAN only. It does promise up to 8 players and each player can select their own type of plane, so it has the makings of a great part night.
You get your money’s worth in SkyFighter, with several games modes both in single and multiplayer. While the game revolves around dogfights, there is much more to it than this. You can play the game tactically or you can play it all guns blazing shooting anything that moves. Each level in campaign has several difficulty levels and you are prompted to choose the difficulty level before starting each mission, so if you really get stuck you can drop the difficulty and continue onwards.
A special mention goes to the visual style. The colors are bright and vibrant and at the start /end of each level the picture fades in/out to sepia tone, giving the impression that you are watching a movie from the era.
All is not perfect in SkyFighter, as with many PS3 games the developers have decided to include functionality for the six axis controller. At the best of times the six axis controls are difficult to use, SkyFighter is no different. In a mission if your plane takes enough damage it will catch fire and start to nose dive. When this happens you have to shake the controller to put the flames out before recovering the flight path. In practice I found it rarely worked and if you did manage to extinguish the flames you never had enough time to avoid crashing into the ground.
Some of the levels were absolutely brutal even with difficulty turned to the lowest setting I still struggled. I don’t claim to be an expert in every game I play and my skill/lack thereof did cause some problems, but the main problem I had was the time limits. I can play though most missions only dying once or twice, however the time limit is unforgiving. In one of the later levels, you must take down a massive troop carrier, to achieve this you need to take out the planes guns(4) the bombers and mines it deploys(unlimited) it defences(4) before dropping a bomb into its engines. While attacking all these points on the plane you must all navigate through a minefield that the plane will deploy at certain intervals. The final insult is you have to do all this is less than 7 minutes. If you fail at any point then it’s back to the beginning. A simple checkpoint would not go amiss.
There are a few minor annoyances with the game, but it is still very enjoyable and I found myself playing it for a couple of hours in one sitting which is something I rarely do unless I really like a game. The only thing that may put some people off is the £7.99 price tag, which while reasonable compared to your average XBLA or DLC it can seem high when you see exactly how much a game costs. However that is more of a criticism of the store than the game.