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Arc Squadron

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

In space, no-one can hear you pew

Product: Arc Squadron | Developer: Psyonix | Publisher: Psyonix | Format: iPhone | Genre: Action, Arcade, Shooter | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.1
Arc Squadron iPhone, thumbnail 1
Frankly, if popular entertainment's take on interstellar travel is anything to go by, humans should just stick to Earth. Two minutes up in the vast expanse of the space and we're just shooting everything to bits. Can't we all just get along?

Take Arc Squadron, an on-rails shooter so unconcerned with diplomacy that it doesn't even bother telling you why you're suddenly on the front line trying to avoid a swarm of missiles.

Bullet hell

Thankfully, narrative context is hardly importantly when there's some pretty fine shooting fun to be had. Arc Squadron might not be revolutionary, but the game's Star Fox-style action is good and meaty, offering plenty of bite-sized blasting at a relentlessly frenzied pace.

Enemy ships tear across the screen in increasingly chaotic formations, making success a matter of quick wits and even quicker reactions. It's all dished out with some smart concessions to the limitations of your touchscreen, too, with virtually all of the finicky bits taken care of for you.

Automatic for the people

Swipe around the screen to position your reticule and your ship unloads its bullets on your behalf. Want to deploy your all-powerful secondary weapons? Then just tap your target and watch the devastation unfold.

It helps, too, that Arc Squadron's Unreal-powered visuals look a treat, with a wide variety of imaginative, colourful cartoon-styled levels providing the perfect accompaniment to the brisk action and thunderous sounds of battle.

It's an experience that remains fresh, with stages constantly spitting out new enemy types, creative boss encounters, even challenge-style diversions.

Settling the score

Arc Squadron isn't just about frenetic combat, though - there's a touch of reflex-based manoeuvring, too. At regular intervals you're tasked with zipping back and forth to collect cubes and build up your points tally. At the end of each stage, points are converted into currency, ready to spend in the game's hangar.

Here, you can purchase new ships, upgrade their abilities, and kit your vessel out with brand-new weaponry. There's a real tangible sense of improvement to upgrades, too - you'd be amazed how many games botch that bit - and it makes your return to the battlefield that much more rewarding.

Out of control

If there's one quibble to be had, it's that Arc Squadron's touch-anywhere controls could do with a bump in sensitivity, even beyond their maximum setting. It's far from disastrous, but faintly sluggish responsiveness and some unpredictable barrel roll execution can sometimes mean the difference between victory and frustrating, undeserved defeat.

For the most part, though, Arc Squadron remains perfectly playable. It's a slickly presented, imaginatively-paced - and surprisingly lengthy - shooter that utterly nails the simple pleasures of blowing things up.

With slightly more responsive controls, Arc Squadron would be a real winner - without them, it still offers plenty of blistering shooty-bang-bang action for your buck.
Arc Squadron
Reviewer photo
Matt Wales | 9 November 2012
A satisfying blast of colourful, creative on-rails shooting that's only slightly let down by an occasional lack of responsiveness in its controls
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