A Space Shooter For Free Review

A Space Shooter For Free Review

Sep 23, 2011

From the strange and unusual intro movie, I get the impression that Commander P. Jefferson is kind of a jerk. I also get the impression that that’s exactly the impression I’m supposed to get. And is Commander supposed to be his rank or his first name? Ambiguous personality and naming quirks aside, one thing we can be sure of is that Commander P. Jefferson hates aliens, but he loves shooting them in the face. And cursing. He’s really into cursing.

With a name like A Space Shooter For Free, it would be perfectly acceptable to expect this to be a real-time strategy game with puzzle elements. However, that’s not what it is. Surprisingly, A Space Shooter For Free is a space shooter that is, get this, free. Ah, but the ironic twist is that while the game is free, you’re only getting part of it. The full game is a US$0.99 add-on that you purchase in-game. And to be brutally honest, you’re going to want to purchase it if you hope to eke out more than about an hour or so worth of play time. The full game includes a survival mode, more levels, more bosses, more weapons and, well, more.

Featuring some down-home, old school space shootin’, you can expect quite a challenge ahead of you. Enemies come from every direction and have a variety of attacks. Ships will form lines around you, trapping you in as they bombard you with weapons’ fire. You’ll have to avoid laser traps, dodge kamikazes, and blast asteroids as they swarm and fill your screen. The game features non-linear progression, meaning you can jump into any level you wish, but you should really just stick with the levels you can handle until you can purchase weapon and ship upgrades. I found that, until I had collected enough fragments to spend on upgrades, some levels were just way too hard. Do the words “bullet hell” mean anything to you?

The controls are a little odd. Don’t go looking for a directional pad or a “fire” button because you won’t find them. You control your ship by touching the screen and dragging the ship to where you want it to go, to any point on the screen. The ship fires automatically, but it only fires while you are touching the screen.

While this control scheme seems like a natural fit for a touch-based device and gives your ship a level of agility you couldn’t get from a directional pad, call me old fashioned, but I miss the d-pad. Your mileage may vary.

What I got from A Space Shooter For Free was a fun, visually pleasing arcade shooter that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The jokes can be half-baked at times, becoming increasingly worse the more you hear them, but it means well. Thankfully, the gameplay is there to back it up with hundreds of aliens to shoot, genuinely tough bosses to fight and cool upgrades to purchase.

A Space Shooter For Free Review Rundown

Graphics/Sound - Pleasing visuals and a fitting soundtrack accompany this game, along with plenty of dialogue featuring real voice acting. After a while, though, especially after a painful loss, the insults hurled at you by some of the characters can become grating to the point where you wish everyone would just shut up.
Controls - You are either going to love or hate the controls; that's just how it is. They do make perfect sense on a touch-screen and allow a degree of movement you can't get anywhere else. But after the first few times you crash because you can't see where you're going, you're going to wish this game shipped with a conventional d-pad control scheme.
Gameplay - You get the freedom of full movement, hundreds of aliens to blast, bosses to fight and upgrades to purchase all in a non-linear progression that allows you go back and play your favorite levels as often as you like. Assuming you don't completely hate space shooters, there's a lot to like. However, the "For Free" part of the game is very short. You'll want to buy the full game add-on, which opens everything up and offers a lot more to do.
Replay Value - As you save up and purchase new weapons, you'll want to go back and replay previous levels in an attempt to get better scores, better times and unlock OpenFeint achievements.
Overall - Space shooters are classic, and hard to beat, but there's a reason they don't dominate the video game market the way they used to: they got stale. However, freshen the idea up with stylized visuals, upgrade shops and some other modern touches, and you begin have fun again. And that's exactly what you have here. That is, if you can get past the controls and the, at times, painfully terrible jokes.

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Dale Culp
Dale Culp has been writing about video games in print and on the web for the better part of the last 10 years. From the Atari 2600 to the Xbox 360 and beyond, he's covered just about everything. You'll find his work in places such as TheWeekender.com, GoLackawanna.com, Gamesylvania.com, EscapistMagazine.com and even IGN.com
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