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iPhone  header logo

Surface to Air Mayhem

For: iPhone

Military touchscreen complex

Product: Surface to Air Mayhem | Developer: Iron Square | Format: iPhone | Genre: Arcade, Retro | Players: 1 | Version: US | App version: 1.0
 
Surface to Air Mayhem iPhone, thumbnail 1

Ironically, there's more computing power in Surface to Air Mayhem than in most mid-century battlefield equipment, and yet the latter was far more effective. While enjoyable in short doses, this aerial assault game is a largely forgettable experience due to a lack of variety.

Surface to Air Mayhem, or more affectionately SAM, orders you to hold down the fort as an enemy aerial assault ensues. Waves of hostile fighter jets, bombers, and other flying contraptions stream in from both sides of the screen and you tap them to fire off guided rockets. Your objective isn't so much to destroy enemies, but rather to defend your installation at the bottom of the screen. Each enemy attack that weasels through your defence takes a chunk from your buildings. Once they taken enough damage, it's Game Over.

Held in landscape mode, SAM fills the screen with sepia-toned visuals that perfectly capture the feel of a mid-century battlefield. This could easily be a battle waged during the Second World War or some remote part of Korea during the Forgotten War. Given how shallow the gameplay is, the visuals go a long way in redressing the deficiency.

Two issues hold SAM back, one involving a lack of variety and the other tied to its available features. The former has greater impact on the experience and fundamentally limits the game's value. Both, however, prevent the game from reaching its full potential.

Jumping into a game, you progress through increasingly difficult levels by surviving waves of enemies. Unfortunately, there's nothing more to the game than that. You're given a set of standard rockets for each level, as well as a special Mayhem mode that grants you unlimited rockets for a short period of time. You only have a limited amount of ammunition, so the object is to defend yourself wisely. Run out of rockets and you're a sitting duck.

This proves challenging, particularly in later stages when more advanced foes take to the skies. What lack of variety SAM has in its design is countered by different types of enemies. There's no change in scenery and scant few power-ups - the only variety comes in how you attack specific foes. Fast fliers require advance firing, while slower bombers can be more accurately pinpointed.

Learning how to best attack these enemies is really what SAM is about. Once you're accomplished this, there's no much left to do. For a quick distraction is gets the job done, but this is one aerial war you're likely to forget.

 
Surface to Air Mayhem
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 29 October 2008
War--what is it good for? A quick bit of gameplay, but nothing substantial.
 
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