Destroy the vodka and tear Stalinbot a new one in Gameloft's epic shooter.
Gameloft's vertical iPhone shooter, Siberian Strike, has a story so bizarre that it almost warrants purchasing the game just to view the opening cut scene. Taking place after World War II, a super powered Russia attempts to corrupt the rest of the world with a special brand of vodka (yes, they went there). To save the free world from Stalinbot, a cross between Stalin and the Mir Space Station (oh they went there), you select from three unique pilots and take to the skies to vaporize thousands of fighter planes.
After soaking in the crazy narrative, you soar through the clouds unleashing hell upon the enemy, weaving between formations of bad guys, dodging what seems like hundreds of bullets, snagging medals and power-ups that let you tear through evildoers with two additional planes and arrows, among other things. Gigantic bosses await you at the end of each stage, and that's when you'll probably want to use your screen clearing bombs.
Most of the time, you'll play from a top down perspective, though Gameloft mixed things up with special 3-D stages where you'll zip through an ice canyon and blow up planes. While we appreciate the effort to tap into the iPhone's abilities, these stages don't control as well as the others.
Speaking of controls, Siberian Strike's developers let you guide your plane using the touch screen or the accelerometer, and we strongly suggest avoiding the latter. On paper, the concept of weaving between bullets while tilting the phone sounds like a cool idea, but in practice, it's too imprecise. Placing your finger on the screen, however, works exceptionally well.
Gameloft also deserves praise for the game's assorted bells and whistles. Visually, you'll enjoy watching swarms of planes crowd the screen, the thunderous explosions and the detailed characters. On the audio front, Siberian Strike has impressive voice acting, decent gunfire/explosive effects and an epic soundtrack that draws you into the action. They really gave this app the full treatment.
On the downside, we encountered some nasty slowdown when too many planes appeared, and for whatever reason, the game locked up, forcing us to reboot. In addition, there's little reason to replay the Siberian Strike after beating it, other than to test your skills on another difficulty. There's Wi-Fi co-op for two players, but each party needs to own the game.
Since it costs .99, however, that's not a big issue. Buggy gameplay aside, Siberian Strike is a fun shooter that packs a ton of charm and a hefty challenge. If Gameloft addresses the slowdown, we'll definitely consider bumping up the score. In the meantime, you'll find us amongst the clouds, defending freedom.
What's Hot: Off the wall narrative, satisfying touch controls, lots of action, neat power ups, powerful soundtrack, detailed 2-D graphics.
What's Not: Slowdown ruins some of the fun, the game locked up on us, lackluster tilt controls, doesn't take long to beat.