Level-5's laser-powered shooter looks the part, but how does it play?
Given the involvement of the legendary Japanese developer Suda 51, you're not going to be surprised to learn that Liberation Maiden's story is a suitably daft one. You'd expect nothing less from a man so closely involved with the likes of Lollipop Chainsaw and killer7. But if the game is more than a little eccentric, it also features a tale that's told with extraordinary visual flair.
As the Japanese nation rises against a threat from outsiders who are hell-bent on sapping the country's energy supply, you assume the role of Shoko Ozora, a young girl elected as president of the country and armed with a powerful flying mech suit. Through a combination of slick anime cutscenes and a crisp 3D world, the story of this unlikely heroine is told.
But first and foremost in the minds of anyone who played the original 3DS version will be how the controls stack up on a touchscreen. The good news is that they work remarkably well, although iPad owners will want to lay the device down on a surface for more comfortable and competent feats of dexterity.
A virtual joystick controls movement around the 3D space, while a strafing button allows Shoko to focus on a single target and simply rotate around it. Switching between rocket and laser weapons is easily accomplished with another tap of the screen, while the single-tap targeting mechanism works well as you rack up combo points by taking out multiple installations in one go.
Those enemies come in a variety of flavors, from rocket spewing turrets that need to be prioritized, to gigantic laser-firing "spikes" which form the basis of most of the core objectives in the game. Destroying these gigantic metallic structures restores natural peace to the world, with forests blooming in the wake of their destruction. Their demise also helps to expose the larger spikes that represent the true enemy of the game, and which also provide a suitably boss-like challenge to boot.
If there are any downsides to this very slick shooter it's that the five stages of its action are over far too soon, and the core gameplay of patrolling and clearing lesser spikes in order to expose and destroy a greater one becomes a little repetitive. Fortunately, there are three different difficulty levels and a stage clear challenge mode to add some much-needed longevity. Stealth and avoidance mechanics are introduced in certain stages too, adding a focus on survival over shooting.
Liberation Maiden may be a little expensive for its content, then, but this is frankly an outstanding port. Those mobile gamers who look upon the release schedule for traditional handheld consoles with envious eyes will be very pleased to see this title make such a grand appearance on the App Store, and that the controls can be ported so effortlessly to touchscreens bodes very well for the future of the platform.
What's Hot:A slick shooter and a very impressive platform port.
What's Not:The game's over a little too quickly for the price.