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iPhone  header logo

MetalStorm: Online

For: iPhone   Also on: iPad

Be my wingman

Product: MetalStorm: Online | Publisher: Z2Live - A King Studio | Format: iPhone | Genre: Multiplayer, Shooter | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.2
MetalStorm: Online iPhone, thumbnail 1
When the boyish Tom Cruise strapped himself into his trusty F-14 and set female hearts aflutter in Top Gun, he unwittingly established a yearning in millions of young men to become air combat pilots.

The iPhone has offered several ways to satisfy this craving – including the excellent F.A.S.T.and the lexically questionable H.A.W.X.

MetalStorm: Online
is a 3D combat flight simulation in a similar mould, and despite being rather late to the party it attempts to out-fly its veteran rivals and score a direct-hit on your spare time.

Take to the skies

Although Top Gun’s Maverick had to endure months of military training in order to fly his multi-million dollar aircraft, you’re given a surprisingly brief tutorial in MetalStorm: Online. Mercifully, this is all that's required – the control system is blissfully straightforward and incredibly intuitive.

Your device’s accelerometer is used to control movement, while your machine guns and lock-on missiles are mapped to the right-hand side of the touchscreen display. On the left you’ll find your air brake and afterburner.

The game reacts wonderfully to your movements, and within minutes you’ll be dog-fighting with the best of them. When the going gets especially tough you can resort to gesture-based manoeuvres, such as spins and loops. These are executed by simply swiping a direction in the middle of the screen.

Social skies

As the name suggests, a large part of MetalStorm: Online’s appeal lies in social gaming. Although a single-player mode is available – where you have to take down wave after wave of gorgeously rendered enemy planes – the real draw here is the opportunity to contest airspace with fellow human beings, as well as team up and take down the AI-controlled enemy in co-operative matches.

Twinned with Apple’s Game Center and offering matches over both wi-fi and 3G, this portion of MetalStorm: Online is likely to swallow up the vast majority of your time.

Success here leads to experience increases and extra cash, the latter of which can be used to augment the powers of your plane or purchase a set of wings entirely.

The customisation element of MetalStorm: Online is particularly worthy of praise, as it offers a genuine reason to keep coming back for more.

There are many ways in which you can enhance the performance of your fighter, and the process of playing countless matches in order to boost your rank and earn some additional funds to plough back into the development of your plane is seriously addictive.

In-app purchases allow you to speed up this process, but a true gentleman earns his own enhancements.

Target down

Sadly, while this aspect is undeniably appealing, the repetitive nature of the gameplay slowly becomes clear.

Firstly, the number of game modes is very limited, and although we love the online side of things a more robust single-player experience would have been welcome. There’s no story mode or mission structure – you just repel wave upon wave of enemies until you succumb to their attacks.

The multiplayer in MetalStorm: Online could also do with a boost. Keeping it one-on-one naturally reduces the danger of lag, but it would have been much more exciting with several players involved – an option that could have been reserved for wi-fi connections.

The same goes for the co-op – having an entire squadron of friends taking to the skies would have made for a truly thrilling venture.

MetalStorm: Online has the raw materials to make one of the most brilliant air combat sims on iOS, but there’s just not enough meat on the bones to keep you interested beyond a few weeks.
MetalStorm: Online
Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 19 May 2011
MetalStorm: Online boasts tight controls, amazing visuals and robust multiplayer, but the lack of available gameplay modes clips its wings somewhat
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