Have you ever dreamt of flying a Top Gun jet when you’re sat on the bus? The new game, Sky Striker aims to provide you with just that experience: a complete combat flight simulator with good graphics, tricky physics and multiple weapon options.
Having managed to get the game to run (by deleting everything else from our test phone’s memory – Sky Striker’s a real resource hog), the first thing we noticed was that it overrides your phone’s profile settings. Even on a phone set to silent, the game starts with full volume music. This irritation isn’t unique to Sky Striker but it’s an irritation all the same. Developers ought to design games which work with your phone’s current set of options, rather than completely ignoring them.
Having adjusted the volume of the music, we scouted the menu for a set of instructions or tips for playing the game. With nothing to be found, we gingerly started a mission, read the briefing and selected a plane. Still no information on how to use the game. Suddenly, we’re mid flight with the nose dipping violently toward the ground… a sharp tug on the joystick (pushing ‘down’ on the phone’s middle button) saved us… but for how long?!
If you’ve played a couple of combat flight simulators before, you’ll know that they generally share a basic set of commands: climb, descend, left, right and fire. Usually, there are other options, such as changing weapons, slewing, map controls, targeting, HUD options and more. With Sky Striker, it was easy to work out the most basic controls but without any instructions at all, we wasted several mission attempts because we had to simply press each button in turn and try to work out what it was doing.
Once you’ve got the hang of the controls, it’s time to try and enjoy the game. Sky Striker’s ‘War on Terror’ storyline, smart, quick graphics and choice of three planes makes it an exciting, addictive and enjoyable challenge. Avoiding causing civilian deaths while simultaneously dodging enemy fire and trying to attack military positions is tough at the best of times but on a mobile phone it’s really hard work. After a while of squinting at the screen, fumbling with the buttons and trying to steer this supersonic jet, you start to wonder: is this really the best sort of game to be developing for a mobile phone?
As a proof of concept, Sky Striker is an impressive feat. It combines nearly all the features of the sort of game we played 12 years ago on PCs and fits them onto a cell phone. It’s very clever but unfortunately, it’s pretty fiddly and just not that much fun to play. Added to that the bad experience with the sound and the total lack of instructions and you’re left with a pretty (and not very highly recommended) memory leech.