Shoot it! Shoot it all down!
How many times have you ever played a game that involves flying a plane and felt like a complete badass? Luftrausers is a game that will do just that. It’s an old cliché, perhaps, but this is very much the definition of ‘simple to pick up, hard to master’, and you’ll have great fun while you learn to master it, too.
Luftrausers is an arcade, score attack shooter. There’s no story to the game whatsoever. Each game starts with your aircraft being launched from a submarine and your aim is to destroy as many enemy aircraft and sea vessels as possible before you get destroyed. The controls are simple, you press up to boost, left and right to turn and hit X to fire your weapon. It will take you a little time to get used to getting control of your craft at first, as gravity keeps pulling you down. But if you land in the water, you’ll be launched back out facing the opposite direction and you can destroy what’s chasing you. The same thing happens if you land in the sea. If your craft gets too damaged, you can repair it, but only by not firing your weapon. It adds an element of strategy to things, as you try and balance out shooting people with trying to avoid them in order to stay alive.
As you progress through the game, you level up and earn achievements, and you also unlock new components for your plane. They are divided into body, weapon and engine. Once you’ve unlocked everything, there will be over 100 different possible combinations of craft to choose from, each different combination having been given a unique name. Some of the bodies have different handling characteristics. There’s also an engine that basically explodes like an atomic bomb if you get destroyed, wiping out everything within a certain radius and giving your score a massive boost. Eventually, you’ll unlock the ability to randomise your craft, which makes every game a totally different experience. It’s great to experiment with new combinations until you find something that you love.
The game has a retro graphics style, with sepia overtones to fit in with the World War II era that this game is set within. Explosions shake the camera view, giving you the impression that this whole thing is being filmed by somebody in the distance. They look good, too. A pariticular favourite effect of mine is seeing a black smoking skull appear when your nuclear engined plane explodes. Despite the simple looking visuals, there are plenty of different enemy vehicles for you to take on, from the little tiny planes and larger ‘ace’ planes, to the battleships, submarines and even a blimp, each looking distinctly different.
Games are usually over in a few minutes, unless you happen to be particularly good at it. This isn’t a game you’re likely to spend hour upon hour playing. You’re mainly going to be playing this for 10-15 minute bursts every now and then. But you’ll have great fun blasting things out of the skies while you are playing, and the friend score leaderboards give you some targets to aim at, other than the enemy planes firing bullets all over the place.
Luftrausers is a simple, yet fun, arcade shooter that will see you coming back for more. It’s just a pick up and play game that will keep you occupied for a while. It’s not a game you’re going to sit around and play for hours, but it’s a great game to have sitting there for when you want to kill a few minutes. We’ve played the PC version, but this is also available for the Vita, and that seems like the ideal platform to pick this up on, if you have it. But whatever version you get, you’ll love reigning firey death on all your enemies.