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Air Master 3D

For: iPhone

Somewhere between master and disaster

Product: Air Master 3D | Developer: Massive Ego Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Adventure, Shooter | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.4
Air Master 3D iPhone, thumbnail 1
It must be a great job, being humanity's last hope. You'd certainly never be short of work - if our games are to be believed anyway.

That said, it must suck being an invading alien. Just as you get to the last few humans left to wipe out, they go and send a lone hero to meet their immense forces, and he wins.

That's the premise behind Air Master 3D (and a great many other games, of course) and its aerial combat. I make a point of telling you all this to begin with since the spit and polish around the front end of this game is found seriously wanting.

Admittedly, this isn't the most important aspect, but when it's stilted and frustrating it hardly puts you in the right frame of mind for an enjoyable flight across spectacular landscapes. Presentation is important - a matter which is highlighted here due to its noticeable absence.

Once you've struggled over that mildly aggravating hurdle, you're rewarded with a surprisingly slick 3D aerial combat game positioned somewhere between the arcade and simulator genres. The static elements of the game (for a want of a better word), mostly being the landscapes, are quite beautiful, reminiscent of fractal generated mountains-scapes one moment, then swirling volcanic realms the next.

This is in stark contrast to the rather retro-looking, cel-shaded 3D graphics of the alien vessels. Not to suggest these polygon-based enemies don't serve their purpose very suitably, but a few textures on their harsh surfaces would undeniably help bring these two graphical elements within the same visual plane. Instead, they appear as though one set of graphics has been laid on top of the other.

Your mission is a simple one: fly close enough to shoot down or destroy the slew of enemies highlighted on your radar. You come equipped with a laser cannon and missiles accessible on the right side of the screen and you can vary your speed using the throttle on the left. The accelerometer takes care of your movement, responding accurately and quickly.

It feels a little odd that you can pretty much stop in mid-air by throttling right back, though. In the same strain, the enemies don't put up too much of a fight as you attempt to secure the five different planets they chose to invade. These are quirks, rather than faults, and they do add a sensation of zooming around in something of a flying saucer, rather than a typical aircraft.

All in all, it has a retro feel to that harks back to the days when 3D gaming was first discovered - which could be of significant appeal to just the right (ex-SNES) player. Despite the flying experience being very smooth, it's also a little sedate, which belies the shoot-'em-up nature and reduces the game's sense of action.

With a bit more adrenaline Air Master 3D could really rip a hole in the iPhone's aerial combat genre, but it doesn't quite manage it during this iteration. Perhaps in an update or two, but right now it's more of a pleasant coast through some beautiful countryside, with a few missiles thrown in for good measure.
Air Master 3D
Reviewer photo
Spanner Spencer | 3 July 2009
Smooth moving, slick controls, and gorgeous landscapes mostly make up for the game's sedate pace, but not quite enough to really sustain its longevity
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