iPhone and iPod Touch Games Round-up 2

Written by Joe Martin

June 4, 2009 | 09:00

Tags: #best-iphone-games #handheld #iphone #iphone-games #ipod-games #ipod-touch #mac

Companies: #apple #capcom #gameloft

Galaxy on Fire 3D

Developer: FishLabs
Price (as reviewed): $4.99 / £2.99 from the AppStore

Galaxy on Fire 3D is definitely one of the most ambitious iPhone apps we’ve seen, being both a fully 3D spaceship-based combat game, as well as an open world trading game. It’s basically a scaled-down version of Freelancer, with upgradeable weapons, plenty of different ships for you to try and all the other mod-cons.

In order to get far enough into the game to actually see most of this content, you’ll first have to get past the initial story-based section of the game, which consists of around 18 linear missions which quickly introduce you to the basics of stellar combat. Using a surprisingly responsive and accurate virtual thumbstick you’ll dodge through asteroid fields, tackle alien motherships and hunt down traitors to the Terran military. Only when you’ve done all that can you venture into the galaxy proper.

*iPhone and iPod Touch Games Round-up 2 Galaxy on Fire, Shift *iPhone and iPod Touch Games Round-up 2 Galaxy on Fire, Shift
Galaxy on Fire 3D is an excellent remake of FishLabs' earlier mobile space-shooter

In the greater galaxy, the game can definitely get a bit repetitive and samey, with it often feeling like you’re playing the same missions over and over, but it’s balanced out by the typically brief playing time of an iPhone user. By that point you’ll have already got more than a couple of hours out of the introductory story anyway, which is more than enough to make the low cost worth it.

Jumping out of the main campaign mode Galaxy on Fire also has a simple survival mode that pits you against wave after wave of enemies. All well and good, but in reality the main appeal of the game lies in the remarkably smooth 3D graphics, not in the drive to top the high-score table. On that front Galaxy on Fire is a tour de force, with a solid framerate and often dozens of different ships on the screen. Weaving through astro-mines as you gun for the mothership is such a huge rush it’s almost palpable.

Verdict: It’s perhaps a little dry and repetitive in the later stages, but as far as 3D space-combat games on the iPhone go, Galaxy on Fire is hard to surpass.

Shift

Developer: Armor Games
Price (as reviewed): $0.99 / £0.59 from the AppStore

Shift will probably be very familiar to many of you as it’s by no means exclusive to the iPhone and is actually freely available online. From what we can see it’s barely even been remade either, though the interface and presentation have obviously been tweaked a little bit.

For those of you who haven’t seen the original, Shift is fairly easily explained as puzzle-platformer that borrows heavily in tone from Portal, but with a more low-tech and austere feel to it. The basic schtick is similar – you are an experimental subject tasked with making it through increasingly complex and dangerous rooms, the key to which is your unique ‘shift’ ability.

*iPhone and iPod Touch Games Round-up 2 Galaxy on Fire, Shift *iPhone and iPod Touch Games Round-up 2 Galaxy on Fire, Shift
Shift may look complex, but it's a lot easier than it looks

Shifting is unsurprisingly what Shift as all about and it simply involves inverting the plane the player is standing on. Normally you’re a black stickfigure man standing against a white backdrop and on a black platform. Shift though and the screen turns upside down, you flip with it and then you’re a white stickfigure standing against a black sky – a sky that used to be the platform you were stood on. It’s hard to explain.

One thing that Shift isn’t, is hard to play, with most of the levels being fairly easy to crack once you’ve got your head around the concept and the controls being gloriously smooth and accessible. The actual action only takes up the centre box-out, the sides of which are flanked with arrows. A simple tap of one of these sets you moving and tapping both makes you jump while a dedicated Shift button sits at the top of the screen.

While Shift seems easy enough at first though the later levels can get impressively complex considering how simple the mechanic seems at first and the game strikes a perfect balance between reflex and reasoning.
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