Max Steel: Rise of Elementor, like many games that have come to pass, draws its inspiration from comic books and their animated series offshoots. Copying is definitely the sincerest form of flattery, but if an app wants to have any lasting impact it has to distinguish itself amidst a sea of mediocrity. Do Max and his right hand fighting machine Steel have the chops to keep us hooked, or is the Elementor not so elemental?

Since I've started, for the umpteenth time, to reclaim my love for graphic novels, games which feature a comic strip addition as a complement to all that action puts me in a better mood. Whether it's cut scenes or even just reading through beautifully rendered panels, I'm now old enough to luxuriate in everything an app has to offer. It's not just a slam bang, beat 'em up experience for me anymore, so a little dialogue before my respective missions is fine and dandy. For gamers who are on the go and just need that straight up adrenaline jolt, they can skip the animated sequence altogether and jump right into fray.

The goal is to use Max's turbo skills, a power he generates from his tech infused partner Steel, to defeat the forces of Miles Dredd and his Dreddnaughts. Without Steel's guidance, Max's superhuman powers is rendered all too human. Although your initial stage, set in Copper Canyon, will lead to many deaths, it won't be a total waste thanks to the coins you collect along the way. The more money you accrue during your speed runs, the better, since turbo blasting your enemies is much better than a couple of sucker punches.

If you love swiping, sliding, and tapping your device as often as possible, you'll love the control mechanic behind Max Steel: Rise of Elementor. Leaping over rocks or dodging obstacles left and right requires the simple, directional slide of a finger. But the title is much more than an a north to south endless runner, as it also mixes a bit of beat 'em up battles during your missions. This variety of action keeps Max and Steel's adventure from getting repetitive, and even when you die a countless number of times you'll keep coming back for more. Here's a shot of me kicking a Dreddnaught right where it counts.

Since it's a free to play experience, you may be tempted to plunk down some money to purchase upgrades, especially if you want to continue your current game and not run out of currency to keep your mission going. More frugal players need not worry, since upgrading your suit, increasing Max's health bars, and even tricking up his weaponry can all be purchased by earning coins within the game. So the cash grab that afflicts many freemium titles is relatively non-existent in Max Steel's universe, and know I can fly the friendly skies with a clear conscience.

Since I'm a total upgrade junkie, getting the chance to strengthen my shields and get extra health kits are a total plus. Some of these items will cost a bunch of in-game currency to purchase, and make if you're buying a shield or a health boost, these additions will only last one game. Certain additions, especially the ones that give you extra power moves or suit improvements, are a wiser, long term investment. Whether you're a conservative or a liberal spender, a turborang is always a worthy choice.

I absolutely adore Max Steel: Rise of Elementor, as its combination of a combat and endless runner experience had me absolutely hooked. It's an app that I can't wait to play again, and as I delete my other apps from my iPad to clear up space, Max Steel will definitely survive the cut. It's that rare free to play journey that you won't regret downloading, and it's another first rate outing from Chillingo. I may even check out the Max Steel series on Disney XD when time permits. I still have no idea what an Elementor is, but give me a few hours with Max and his sidekick, and everything will come up roses. (Everything smells a lot better when it's free.)


App Store Link: Max Steel: Rise of Elementor for iPhoneiPad | By Chillingo, Ltd  | Price: Free | Version: 1.0 | 66.4 MB | Rating: 9+

8.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating