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Strike Wing: Raptor Rising

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

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Product: Strike Wing: Raptor Rising | Developer: Dream Builder Studios | Publisher: Crescent Moon Games | Format: iPhone | Genre: Shooter, Simulation | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.1
Strike Wing: Raptor Rising iPhone, thumbnail 1
Imagine Luke Skywalker, gearing up to take on the Empire for a second consecutive decisive space battle - only to be told that he has to pop another Republic coin in the metre to free up his X-Wing.

That’s the absurd clash at the heart of Strike Wing: Raptor Rising, which balances impressive futuristic dogfighting with a maddeningly demanding IAP system.

Point and shoot

Strike Wing's space battles are a thrill. They occur across the entire 360-degree scope of space - or at least a portion of space - and generally involve half a dozen or more zippy fighters.

You get to choose which control method you want to use from the outset - accelerometer or virtual joystick. We went for the latter, and the result is a very approachable 3D shoot-'em-up.

Strike Wing might look like Galaxy on Fire, but this is no epic simulator. You point your craft at an enemy and you hold the 'shoot' button until both shields and hull give way. Simple.

In truth, the blasting is perhaps a little too easy to execute. It's disappointing to find that your lasers lock on whenever the enemy strays into a wide outer targeting circle. There's a 'lead' indicator, but it's wholly unnecessary to be so precise with your shots.

Picking your fight

Still, Strike Wing: Raptor Rising reveals itself to be a shooter with an appreciable amount of strategy mixed into its action. Head-on assaults will lead to a swift death, whether you're closing the gap on a distant fighter or strafing a capital ship.

You need to manage your distance and angle of attack, and use your ship's afterburners to beat a swift retreat when those recharging shields start taking a pummelling.

It all pays off visually, too, with sharply drawn fighters and a richly detailed spacey background filled with planetoids and nebulae. If nothing else, they're great for helping you to get your bearings as the battle spins around you.

It's a real shame, then, that Raptor Rising gets things so wrong from a structural standpoint.

Abridged space opera

There's no story linking together Strike Wing's levels - you're simply presented with a handful of standalone missions. We're not usually averse to this approach, but it definitely jolts a little when you consider its polished space-epic visuals, which are so evocative of any number of sci-fi classics.

IAPs explained
Strike Wing is heavy on the IAPs.

£1.49 / $1.99 gets you 500 credits, or unlocks a single fighter when the time comes. You'll need to do this if you want to progress beyond the first level without grinding through the first mission.

Extra mission packs are free to download, but you can only play them with certain fighters - fighters that need to be bought, of course.
More troubling is the game's restrictive IAP system. It feels as if you're asked to buy a new ship at every step, just so that you can meet an arbitrary requirement for entry to the next level. You can 'earn' your way through normal play, but only by grinding through the same small selection of simple missions again and again.

These ships aren't cheap, either. They start at £1.49, while £5 gets you a starter pack of several craft. That might well be fair for the content on offer, but the way it's presented feels cynical and grabby.

Smart developers have learned to withhold the introduction of IAPs until the player has experienced a fair amount of content. It's possible to create a sense of good value while simultaneously encouraging players to spend. Strike Wing fails in this regard.

Strike Wing: Raptor Rising presents the framework and core mechanics of a rock-solid space blaster, which you'd think would be the difficult part. That the developer then cripples its craft with a devastating IAP attack is pretty hard to fathom.
Strike Wing: Raptor Rising
Reviewer photo
Jon Mundy | 29 October 2013
Strike Wing: Raptor Rising has the core of a great 3D space shooter, but it's lack of a proper structure and misjudged IAP system torpedo its chances
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