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Aces of the Luftwaffe

For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone, Mobile

Flying low

Product: Aces of the Luftwaffe | Publisher: HandyGames | Format: iPad | Genre: Action | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Aces of the Luftwaffe iPad, thumbnail 1
The Battle of Britain has passed into history as a textbook example of a backs-to-the wall victory against overwhelming odds.

However, we doubt those odds involved a single heavily armed fighter plane - with the occasional help of two wing-men - going up against the might of the entire German airforce.

But then, video games are known for taking liberties, and Aces of the Luftwaffe uses this exaggeration to form a competent if unspectacular 2D shoot-'em-up for iOS.

Carrying the fight

The setting might be the green fields of Great Britain, the English Channel, and the war-torn European mainland, but Aces of the Luftwaffe's core gameplay could have been set in outer space 2,000 years into the future.

This is a pure arcade shmup, with your little craft flying up the screen and automatically spitting out an unlimited stream of lead. All you have to do is touch the screen and drag your fighter into position - though the lack of relative positioning means your finger always obscures the action somewhat.

As enemy formations swarm onto the screen from all directions (with a telltale "watch your six" warning when being attacked from behind), you must dodge and weave to avoid damage while aligning your guns for a counter-attack.

Learning from the past

There are some concessions to the new, more casual iOS format. The gameplay is generally slower than your average hardcore Japanese shooter, while your craft proves to be surprisingly robust, capable of taking half a dozen or so hits before heading for the ground.

This is helped by frequent power-ups that bolster your guns, draft in wing-men, and repair your plane.

Still, this is a pretty tough cookie - especially the bosses - so you'll want to plough the medals you pick up from downed craft into upgrading your plane's core abilities.

Spent ammunition

This is where the game's IAP system comes into play. If you want to really bolster your plane from the off, or to unlock the second and third campaigns straight away, you'll probably need to splash out some more cash to release the requisite funds.

IAPs explained
You need medals to purchase upgrades for your plane, as well as to unlock the second and third campaigns.

£1.49 / $1.99 will get you 2,000 medals, which should be enough to unlock both campaigns and leave you ample change to soup your fighter up nicely.

Overall, IAPs aren't too in your face or essential to progress in Aces of the Luftwaffe - you can get by with a bit of skill and a little back-to-the-start grinding, though you'll probably want to make a single initial purchase to get you going.
You could grind through the first campaign again, but annoyingly you can't pick and choose which of the three levels you tackle - you have to reset the campaign altogether.

Given that the first boss will probably be your first sticking point in terms of difficulty, that can feel especially irritating.

But really, it's Aces of the Luftwaffe's inherent ordinariness that proves to be its biggest issue. We've seen this kind of 2D shooter so many times before, and HandyGames's effort - while perfectly playable - fails to add anything significant to the formula.
Aces of the Luftwaffe
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 27 February 2013
A competent and challenging 2D shoot-'em-up that fails to add anything of note to the genre
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