Jul 24, 2014
Sky Force 2014 is a curious mix of freemium and old school shooter. Does it work?
Sky Force 2014 is a classically styled, old school vertical shooter. The player travels up the screen dodging around and blasting the heck out of a bunch of different enemies. Huge, ships small planes and gigantic bombers fill out the vast armies the player fights on each level. And players will have plenty of time to admire these enemies. The game works on a grading system where the player must repeat levels until they gain a certain percentage of enemies destroyed or so on. This leads to rather a lot of grinding to afford better parts to actually complete these challenges.
Skyforce 2014 lacks powerups and even alternate weapons, which may be a bummer for some players. Part of the fun of shooters is picking up and using different weapons and powerps. Sky Force 2014 however mostly gets by using the same main gun which can be upgraded with stars collected from dead enemies. These stars can be exchanged for upgrades between levels that make the gun fire faster and do more damage, but it never really gets more interesting than its single orange bullets without a lot of invested time. There are a few other weapons in the game, but it is not clear how to unlock them or indeed how different they are.
The lack of weapons and pretty tame gameplay kind of sabotage Sky Force 2014. With the large amount of great looking, full featured shooters on Android it is difficult to find time for one that has so few weapons and also attempts to nickel and dime the player. The game just never seems to hit a groove and the most fun part of the game is the very beginning. The player flies a very powerful ship for a few minutes, before it is destroyed and they return in a very weak fighter, pew pewing small bullets.
Skyforce 2014 looks great. Some sharp, colourful graphics really make the game pop and small details like the way stars sparkle and smoke hangs in the air from destroyed enemies gives the game some class. There is a great variety of enemies and the game as a whole is silky smooth and looks excellent. It nails the vibe of an old school arcade shooter while still looking modern.
The sound is similarly excellent. Skyforce 2014 has some very unique music that sounds just like 8 bit chiptunes, which are very catchy. The sound effects for shooing and explosions work well. There is a fair bit of speech in the game as well to alert the player of game events and to provide a bit of backstory. Great stuff!
Sky Force 2014 has a fair few levels and the game is quite difficult, but it is hard to tell if this is by design, or due to the in app purchase system deliberately weakening the player.
Sky Force 2014 is a tolerable shooter, but its lack of interesting weapons and annoying, grindy freemium system dooms it to take a backseat to many other shooters on the platform.