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There aren't many games on the App Store that have divided gamer opinion quite like Pilot. For some it's a sedate and hypnotic time-filler, while for others it's the embodiment of freemium evil that wants to bombard your wallet, and have you bombard your social media, in exchange for unlocking gameplay . We'll get onto the costs involved later, but what about the gameplay itself?
First of all, you need to select a plane and a mission. Each flight is composed of four sections: taxiing, take-off, the flight itself and the landing. To accomplish any of these aspects without incurring spectacular fatalities, you're going to need to precisely master both the thumbstick which controls the direction of the plane, and the throttle lever which lies at the left hand side.
To start with, the game lets itself down a bit by not even explaining exactly how to take off (pull down on the directional lever at max speed, do the reverse to land), and you'll likely experience your first explosive disaster fairly early on as you tease the throttle and directional controls to drive your plane straight into the side of a nearby mountain.
Once that's mastered however, you're soon up in the air and navigating to the appropriate runway icon of your destination. This is where things get tricky as you need to line up a little guiding strip icon with the runway itself, then steer towards it while carefully managing your speed. It takes a little practice to get the timings just right, but it is quite satisfying when you make a perfect alignment and bring the old girl down to earth safely.
You then pick up another job, and this repeats eternally as far as we can tell. There's a huge selection of planes to be unlocked, from light aircraft to jumbo jets and military vehicles, and this is where the game has struck a nerve for many. Some are unlocked with coins you earn, some by sharing the game through Facebook, others are purchased with real cash. We're fairly ambivalent towards all these things, although we balk at the idea of gaming the App Store review system in exchange for in-game goodies.
Pilot isn't the most sophisticated game you'll ever play on your mobile phone, and it's easy to see why the game has divided players so strongly with its avaricious unlock system. Yet in the same way that Farming Simulator 2012 scratched an itch we never knew existed, there's something to said for the absorbing, hypnotic charms of even the basic free gameplay that's on offer.
What's Hot: Oddly compelling and hynotic gameplay as you master each aircraft and rack up your currency.
What's Not: Fiddly controls that will take time to master, a poor tutorial, as well as limited audio and a greedy cash store.