Sky Gamblers: Cold War Review
Presenting their sequel to Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders, Atypical Games has recently debuted Sky Gamblers: Cold War. Atypical Games takes apart generations of Air Force history and allows you to control various types of warplanes in a varying degree of gameplay types. Does this Top Gun fighter make us feel the need for speed? Or should we eject before we reach the danger zone?
At first glance, Cold War offers an excellent degree of gameplay types in order to give you the most bang for your buck. For players who want to fly alone, there are Free for All, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Defend the Base, Free Flight, Last Man Standing, Dogfighting (with jets, not puppies!), Survival Rounds and Campaign Modes. Many of these modes are intended for multiplayer, but can be filled with bots for those lacking an internet connection on their iOS device. With 12 different types of fighter jets and so many methods of play, what could possible go wrong?
A lot can go wrong, honestly. The Accelerometer/gyroscopic method of control is extremely inaccurate, even on an iPad 2. For the first five or six times I played, I struggled greatly with the orientation of my iPad and kept trying to adjust the sensitivity settings of the motion controls in order to get things right. Even after adjusting the sensitivity, I found myself pausing regularly to recalibrate due to how erratic and uncontrollable my plane was flying. In other words, those who actually downloaded this game should switch to the Virtual D-Pad (left thumb to maneuver) method right away.
Using the Virtual D-Pad feels much better, but the actual mechanics of flying each plane seem to be unreliable during pivotal moments of gameplay. For a $4.99 price tag, Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders has a lot to offer in terms of scope and gameplay variety, but its poor controls diminish what would have been otherwise a genuinely decent simulator of aerial combat. Pulling off downward spirals, getting away from the ground after dive-bombs, doing barrel rolls and loop-to-looping behind a trailing enemy should all be relatively easy in games that are meant to specifically simulate aerial combat, but Cold War makes it almost impossible. Whether this was done in order to keep the planes realistic or to balance all the jets, it does not matter. The worst part is, the game seems to reset you back into the Accelerometer controls for certain parts depending on the type of plane that you use (usually the modern jets), which is immensely irritating.
The graphics of Cold War attempt to make up for its unreliable controls. The lighting and high speed effects are particularly excellent, as are the heat-haze effects near the planes’ engines. The levels are immense and great for dogfights in the sky. Though some of the buildings on the ground look lackluster, that is to be expected in a flight simulator-esque title.
The graphical details of the planes, skies, sun and visual effects mesh together rather well. Once you have multiple planes in the sky going all over the place and shooting each other, the aesthetics of Cold War are quite effective. Unfortunately, graphics are put on the back-burner when the controls are this shaky.
The sound effects of Sky Gamblers: Cold War are rather bland. Expect to hear your standard jet engine turbines, machine gun rattling and missile-launch sounds that you have probably heard in dozens of other games. There are different types of missiles to launch, but they all look and sound exactly the same (except for one or two distinct, modern weapons). The main theme is reminiscent of one of the battle songs of Warcraft 2, but I don’t remember any other songs in the game at all. For a game that is 751 MB, I would hope that some of that memory would be in the form of a decent soundtrack, but no.
Sky Gamblers: Cold War might be aesthetically pleasing, but its other attributes aren’t. It could be commended for its diverse types of multiplayer matches, but many times I found myself gunning down AI-controlled bots because there were no human players to be found. During these instances of scouring massive levels in hope of an enemy, Cold War’s lack of music and repetitive sound effects became much more apparent. Stack this on top of its capricious controls and its $4.99 price and I found that my overall experience of Sky Gamblers: Cold War reminds me why I hate both heights and gambling.
Do yourself a favor and just spend your five dollars on a DVD copy of Top Gun. Because out of all the characters from that movie I could chose to symbolize this game (from Maverick to Iceman), in the end I would say… Goose. Because they’re both things that are dead to me.