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Sky Force

For: PSP
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Imitation is the most boring form of flattery

Product: Sky Force | Developer: Infinite Dreams | Format: PSP | Genre: Arcade, Shooter | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Sky Force PSP, thumbnail 1
Originally released in 2005 for mobile platforms, Infinite Dreams's shooter Sky Force was a throwback in style to the vertical scrollers of old: to your Raidens, your SWIVs, your 1942s.

Six years later, Sky Force has set its aims on one of the few portable platforms without a version to call its own, the PSP.

After selecting a level of difficulty that alters the aggression of opponents and percentage of destruction, you have to complete each area, you take control of one of three high-tech craft.

From here you launch into one of eight stages, filled with enemy vehicles on air, land, and sea. Each area feels similar to the last, and, with the exception of a minimal number of environmental structures to avoid, landscapes are nothing more than backgrounds with little bearing on the action.

Take off into average!

Divested of the standard fire button, your craft shoots automatically at a steady pace with only a certain number of bullets from your ship on-screen at one time.

Approaching closer to enemies and landing a hit obviously removes this projectile from play, meaning that if you want to quickly dispatch the planes, buildings, and boats, getting near enough to see the whites of their eyes and screws of their fixings is your best tactic.

Destroying foes quickly minimises the amount of incoming fire and gives you more room to navigate the field of play to avoid the baddies that require more of a beating than others.

After you defeat a set of enemies, a power-up will often appear, providing energy to replenish your shields, extra fire power in your standard weapon, the addition of regularly firing homing missiles, or an all-powerful laser best saved for difficult situations.

If this sounds like something you've played before, that's because it probably is. Sky Force does very little to distinguish itself.

Its reverence to the stylings of the genre, such as intricately detailed sprite work, a synthesised soundtrack, and a structure of play that does nothing to stray from the well worn path of '90s shmups, lends it a nostalgic feel, at the cost of a personality to call its own.

Economy class

Its also a very bare experience after you've seen the – admittedly quite tough - main campaign, with only high scores to beat after the final area is cleared.

The scores set by the developers are pathetically easy, so the challenge comes in beating your own point totals, which has little mileage when you can't show them off to a list full of friends.

Some interesting directions of play are taken towards the back end of the game, with a particularly novel level in which your weapons are offline and success comes from just navigating safely to the end of the mission.

The intensity of fire and the patterning of bullets to circumnavigate approaches a bullet hell shooter, a nice diversion from the destructive slog of the other areas.

Some of the boss battles with giant aircraft and battleships add an on-the-fly puzzle element as you work out attack patterns, though these two aspects of Sky Force aren't developed enough, and the majority of your time is spent pew-pewing peons.

If you desperately need a half baked but serviceable scrolling shooter on your PSP then this is it. Nothing here will truly astound or excite you, but it does do a decent impression of the games it apes.
 
Sky Force
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 23 June 2011
Taking too much inspiration from other – much better – games, Infinite Dreams' shooter never rises to the quality of the titles it wishes it was, instead providing a bland but competent shmup
 
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