The space shooter has been a staple of video games from the beginning. Ever since Asteroids was released, we've been treated to a bevy of all sorts of spaceship-based explosion festivals featuring psychedelic graphics and intense gameplay. Arc Squadron was an iOS title that was released a year ago, but it has undergone a facelift and tummy tuck. Let's see how far we've come from the days of black and white triangles shooting chunks of rock.
Redux is an apt name for this version of Arc Squadron since it brings back an already decent game and polishes all the rough edges into a nicely hewn diamond. It looks and plays beautifully.
The stylized visuals looks spectacular and have not aged one bit. Whether you're rocketing through a wormhole reminiscent of the Doctor Who title sequence, or simple blasting the hell out of a robotic bunch of space rubbish, Arc Squadron Redux looks lovingly detailed and beautiful. Many games skimp when it comes to level design, choosing to rehash and reuse graphics over and over again to the point of insanity. Arc Squadron avoids this pitfall by having a wide array of new spacescapes for you to blast your way through.
The controls for Arc Squadron Redux are also fantastically tactile. You can play with one finger and use it to chain together combos by sliding it around the screen. I'm so glad they avoided the ever present virtual game pad in favor of more gesture based controls and auto-firing when the reticle hovers over a target. It makes the game stand out from the rest of the infinite amount of space shooters in the App Store.
After playing a ton of iOS titles, I've noticed that they tend to be much easier than their console counterparts. There is a distinct lack of extremely challenging games on mobile, but Arc Squadron Redux swoops in to save your fingers from boredom. I have to admit that this title surprised me at how quickly it ramps up the difficulty. It is always a fair game, but you have to be fast. To play requires some concentration and hand eye coordination. This isn't some tower defense game where you can check your email in the middle of a mission.
At 60 levels, Arc Squadron Redux is a hefty game that is well worth a couple bucks (it's now free). Add in the achievements and upgrades you can purchase for your ships and you have yourself a solid mobile title that would be at home on a standalone mobile console. It is chunky, polished, and fun.
But, there is one downside. If you're playing on an older generation device, this game chugs and freezes quite often during each level. It puts a huge damper on your excitement when an asteroid is heading straight for your ship and suddenly sits suspended in space. But, if you're rocking an iPhone 5 or newer iPad, you should be alright.
From the days of simple outlines exploding in black and white to the lens-flared fictional future, space shooters have come a long way. Arc Squadron Redux is the pinnacle of this genre and well worth a play if you've ever fancied yourself an X-Wing pilot or other hero of the stars.