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Fractal Combat

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

Century of the self-similarity

Product: Fractal Combat | Publisher: Oyatsukai | Format: iPhone | Genre: Shooter, Simulation | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
Fractal Combat iPhone, thumbnail 1
A fractal is defined as a geometric pattern that can be split into small parts, each of which acts as an approximate reduced-size copy of the whole.

As such, the title of Oyatsukai's airborne action game is a remarkably honest assessment of the game itself, because most players will have trouble differentiating each mission from the one that preceded it.

Dispensing with the usual niceties, Fractal Combat throws you straight into missions of space combat above algorithmically generated landscapes.

The first 30 seconds have all the elegance of the Warhawk demonstration during Sony’s infamous E3 2006 presser, as you attempt to adjust to the slightly twitchy tilt controls which guide your ship.

Tilt to live

Quickly, however, you’ll get to grips with the skittishness of the first available craft and happily accelerate across a verdant alien planet, blasting ground emplacements and other ships hell-bent on shooting you down.

The environments may be rather basic, but everything moves at a fair old lick, while the HUD helpfully highlights dangers with a neon-green outline.

Tap the 'fire' buttons on either side of the screen and you’ll let loose heat-seeking missiles, with just one or two enough to destroy most enemies.

Target practice

Each mission has a minimum of two key targets to destroy – sometimes these will be identical to the regular enemies you face, while on others you’ll need to take down larger craft.

Finish the job and you’ll be rewarded with a ranking between one and three stars, dependent on how many enemies you take out along the way and the damage you receive.

Thus you need to decide whether to head straight for the targets to incur a smaller penalty or chase down every last enemy at the risk of being destroyed or heavily damaged along the way.

Geometric wars

Missions are bite-sized slices of fast-paced action, and thus ideal for portable play. The problem is that they’re all pretty much the same.

The fact that your missiles will automatically find their targets – and that crashing into the scenery does nothing - means you simply need to jab the 'fire' button while avoiding enemy projectiles.

Admittedly that’s easier said than done, as you can often find yourself amid a large swarm with multiple missiles headed in your direction. Fortunately, every destroyed enemy releases an energy pick-up, which boosts your ship’s shield.

Star craft

The money that you earn alongside your star total can be spent on new ships, with fresh classes of craft unlocking as you progress through the seven worlds. You can also purchase new weapons, generators, and radars to improve your capabilities.

The ships handle quite differently, too – the second is a lumbering beast that can withstand more shots than most but at the expense of manoeuvrability. Later you’ll unlock a jet fighter in which you’ll need to manage the throttle more carefully.

If learning the idiosyncrasies of these new craft provides a spark of excitement, it’s all but snuffed out by the grinding repetition of the missions. But in short bursts Fractal Combat’s simplistic blasting offers just enough un-demanding thrills to compensate.
Fractal Combat
Reviewer photo
Chris Schilling | 15 August 2011
Thuddingly repetitive, but sensibly brief stages and terrific tilt controls (just about) save the day
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