Fly the unfriendly skies in this feature packed and affordable iPhone app.
Blue Skies is a top down 2-D shooter that reminds us of EA's Urban and Jungle Strike. You pilot a Scorpion M3 Attack Chopper through hostile territory and destroy enemy fighters, blimps and tanks with machine gun fire, missiles and bombs. Nothing about it wows us, but it's a fun arcade-style game with excellent controls and lots of content for ninety-nine cents.
After selecting one of four pilots, you run into Master Sergeant Harris of the Blue Skies Air Force Academy, who briefs you on the situation. The diabolical Hans Kraven has launched a large scale attack on weaker nations and yours is next. Faced with your imminent doom, you agree to fly solo missions to take down Kraven's empire and restore order to the world. Not exactly the deepest or most interesting of stories, but it adds context to the game and most importantly, puts faces on the enemy planes and tanks you destroy.
You control your helicopter by physically maneuvering the iPhone, tilting it down to move forward, up to travel backwards and left and right to turn in those directions. To fire your machine guns and bomb the hell out of ground forces, simply press the right and left sides of the screen, respectively. Learning the mechanics takes a few moments, but once you master them, you'll find that Blue Skies is easy to control.
It's also fun to play. Story mode's 30 levels are packed with bad guys that drop cash and fuel when destroyed. In addition, you'll pick up new weapons as you go, such as lasers and fireballs. Restricting players to an enclosed playfield (you cannot move beyond the red borders) is kind of lame, but there's usually a hefty amount of real estate to explore. You'll also get an assist with red and green arrows that display the nearest enemy and your launch pad, respectively, complete with distances that let you know how far you'll need to travel. Periodically landing is key to your survival, since doing so automatically refuels and rearms your chopper.
If you need a break from the campaign, there's a decent Arcade mode where you basically fight until you blow up. A random level generator keeps things fresh, and you can always look to beat your high scores. Sadly, you cannot post those scores to an online leaderboard.
Although much of the game features the same old terrain, Blue Skies harks back to classic 16-bit games, with simple looking planes, helicopters and a green jungle that you can tear apart. There's also an impressive techno soundtrack that should pump you up before each fight. The fact that developer Rocking Pocket Software pumped ten tracks into such an affordable game is a testament to the company's attention to detail.
For less than a dollar, you have no reason to avoid Blue Skies. It's far from being a showpiece for the iPhone, but it's still a fun 2-D shooter with more than enough content to keep you blasting enemies for a few hours.
What's Hot: Deep single player campaign, head-bobbing techno soundtrack, fun Arcade mode, superb controls, reminds us of old school shooters.
What's Not: You cannot pause or exit to the title screen in-game, Arcade mode lacks online leaderboards.