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ARC Squadron Review

By Andrew Nesvadba, on November 1, 2012


ARC Squadron
  • Publisher: Psyonix
  • Genre: Arcade
  • Released: 1 Nov, 2012
  • Size: 319.0 MB
  • Price: $2.99
Download on the AppStore
Rating

PROS

  • Pin-sharp graphics that look too good to be true for such a hand-held device.
  • Elegant control scheme and interface design; gives you maximum vision while still providing a challenge.

CONS

  • Combo timer far too short; only a split-second afforded to continue a chain, but enemies spawn far too sparsely to maintain it with ease.
  • Combat complexity tied to ship power; makes you feel impotent despite clearing the stage of enemies.

VERDICT

ARC Squadron is a solid shoot'em-up in the vein of greats like Star Fox, but streamlined to suit the platforms larger casual audience - don't fool yourself though as it still has plenty of bite in the later stages.


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Developer Psyonix is no stranger to the Unreal Engine having worked with Epic Games on Unreal Tournament 2004 to create Onslaught mode. As such it's no surprise to see their latest release sporting the game engine in ARC Squadron, bringing out its full beautiful potential, but most importantly, creating a fun shoot'em-up too.

Immediate comparisons draw upon the likes of games such as Star Fox, though the elegant control scheme of automatically firing while swiping to move and dodge lowers the entry level considerably. There are no lock-ons - players need only tap an enemy to deploy a missile or any other special weapon (ranging from lasers to black holes). In lieu of complexity through controls the game throws players in to debris-filled environments, testing their skill at dodging incoming fire as well as chunks of rock and scrap-metal.

Colored boxes also act as distractions, alternating in color and awarding the player with a significant score boost should they collect them all in order. Throw in enemies that can disable your weapons or protect themselves with massive shields and you can see how things quickly spiral out of control.

Points prove to be considerably important to the player as the final score translates directly in to cash to be spent in an upgrade store. From here your ship can be improved, allowing it to take and dish out more damage; entirely new ships can be unlocked and outfitted; and special weapons can be equipped and improved as well. Those practically dripping in spare points can also bling out their ship in a skin of their choosing if they can afford it.

Although each stage is relatively small, the visual design (barring warp stages) is phenomenal, ranging from fighter-bases located inside dense asteroid fields to curving your way through the innards of a broken-down hulk of a ship. Bonus stages play on the various skills you'll need to improve on (taking out targets, dodging environment hazards, and even simply staying alive at low health), awarding significant score boosts to keep your ship topped up for the boss encounters.

Oh yes, there are plenty of boss stages too, making for a great distraction from the basic run-and-gun gameplay.

If anything feels missing it's a sense of urgency in the player's actions - aside from an introduction exclaiming that you must defeat 'the enemy' there's no real impetus to drag yourself from stage to stage. Unlocking new weapons or ships does make for a good goal, but it can only hold your interest for so long. The dense amount of content on offer combined with the fairly basic gameplay almost begs for a story to tie it together.

As such ARC Squadron is not only a pretty distraction, but a fun and challenging one too. Whether you play to conquer or simply to test your skills, there's something for most shooter fans to enjoy.

Screenshots

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