Being a jet fighter pilot is just about one of the most bad ass things in the world. But to me, there's something about old school pilots that's even more bad ass. That's just one of the reasons why I've been enjoying Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders so much. You've done it again, Atypical Games!
SG: SR takes you out of the jet plane and puts you into the cockpit of a World War II fighter plane with an actual freaking propeller. You can have all the fancy heat-seeking missiles you want. For some reason, a fighter plane with the technology to fire bullets through its propeller still seems more impressive.
Knowing nothing about jet fighters at all, I would imagine that all you have to do nowadays is just press a button. With a jet plane, you have everything planned out. With an old World War II fighter? It's like you're flying through the sky while sitting on a bomb. And when you're surrounded by danger on all sides, that's just what it feels like to play this latest game in the Sky Gamblers franchise.
For people new to the series, the game starts you off with an extensive tutorial section that runs you through the ins and outs of how to control your plane. This is one of the strongest parts of the whole game. There is so much flexibility in the controls, you can choose how you want to play.
At its most casual, the game plays like a good fast-twitch shooter with plenty to blow up. At its toughest, it's not only a really intense flight simulator, but also a white-knuckle effort to just try and keep yourself in one piece, let alone shoot down other planes. Good luck trying to hold things together without the "stabilizer" option enabled. But it feels finely tuned enough that after spending some time with it, you'd be able to get the hang of it.
At the same time, the flight controls and dogfights are also where the game feels the weakest. Sort of. By this I mean that, more than once, I found myself wishing that I had a controller attachment. Yeah it's super nerdy and not exactly in the ethos of casual gaming, but there's just only so much you can accomplish in a fighter pilot game without the tactile satisfaction that comes from pulling out of a nose dive with an actual flightstick. That said, SG: SR takes it about as far as you can go with either the tilt controls or the on-screen options.
In addition to all of the superlative visuals and high tension fighter pilot action, SG: SR is also a great little piece of history. While it's by no means a college course, there's lots of interesting historical information packed into the game, from the locations such as Pearl Harbor, Coast of Dover, Midway, Germany, and France, to the armaments and military equipment. World War II and history junkies will definitely get more out of all these details than the average couch pilot.
Starting out in the Campaign, you will be able to play through several missions in the two main theaters of World War II. Even though each one only consists of six missions, each mission is packed with sub-missions that will keep rolling out. Just when you think you've made it through, there will be more fighters on the horizon.
After making it through most of these, I still feel it's hard to beat the mission that opens up the Asia-Pacific War -- Pearl Harbor. Even to the most casual student of history, it's instantly recognizable and puts you directly into the action, launching from a hangar right into the middle of a horde of Japanese fighter pilots.
Syncing right up with the multiple options that are available for how you want to control the game, there's also plenty of ways to play it. In addition to Campaign mode, there are a number of multiplayer modes, including Capture the Flag, Last Man Standing, and the all-new Assault mode. GameCenter will also feature a Head-to-Head mode where you will be able to voice chat with your opponent.
Even if you're not a big fan of combat flight games, flight sims, or World War II-themed action, this game will likely have something for you to latch onto. With all of the customization options to fit your style of play, along with the excellent graphics and presentation, SG: SR is about as good as it gets for games in the air and continues the excellence in the Sky Gamblers series. So suit up ace, and get ready for some serious dogfighting. The good kind!