Piloting a plane is surprisingly smooth and immersive on iOS, and that has lead to a number of aerial combat games in the App Store. MetalStorm: Aces is the latest addition that is a follow-up to MetalStorm: Online, and attempts to build upon its solid predecessor. The Aces tagline drives the sequel with the main campaign focusing on battling rogue ace pilots. There are 60 missions split across 15 aces to take down, and the objectives vary with least damage, speed runs, target destruction, and of course straight dogfighting. In addition to the campaign, there’s an endless survival mode as well as head to head Game Center online multiplayer. The only problem with the multiplayer is that it’s just two player versus, but it definitely runs smoothly with those two players.
There was a solid base to build on, and the developers have done a good job in doing just that with the Aces variation. The interface has been refined to really set-up a fast paced arcade experience with effortless tilt controls, easy targeting, and smooth swipe gestures to avoid enemy attacks. The controls get out of the way to let you focus on the objective at hand, and there’s constant action on screen. Anyone can enjoy all that is offered, as the usual complexities have been simplified including changing speed, managing ammo, and performing barrel rolls. All of the action is presented superbly with a deluxe 3D graphics engine that looks great in motion, especially with the new environments to fly through whether it’s canyons, city skylines, forest, and more.
The entire package offers a lot to appreciate with a lot to dive into that is made for perfect pick up and play. The main drawbacks relate to the difficulty level, as it’s easy to see that the developers have tweaked it to entice you to spend real money. The game is free to play, but there are plenty of jets to unlock, and upgrades to perform. This become almost essential after the second ace battle, and without them you can barely beat levels with zero stars. There are three different in-app purchase currencies to contend with, and they lead to such valuable upgrades that the gameplay difficulty calls for so quickly. It’s disappointing that the gameplay is balanced towards the payment structure, rather than enjoyment, and it drags down the rest of the quality elements in the game.
MetalStorm: Aces (Free, Universal) is one to fly past despite the well made aerial combat engine, because the payment structure shoots down the potentially enjoyable experience.