PS Vita Review

Luftrausers

Vlambeer's sepia-toned shooter strafes the Vita in style

There's something comforting about the niche that the PS Vita has carved for itself as home of indie gaming on the move.

It has garnered some really impressive support over the last year or so with a long list of amazing titles that has increased the need for a decen sized memory card and it looks like a trend that will continue.

The latest indie darling to join the Vita's ever-widening catalog is Vlambeers frustratingly addictive shooter Luftrausers. Luftrausers

Hiding beneath the game's sepia-toned 16-bit-style bitmapped exterior is cunningly nuanced shooter that always has a little something to offer whether you need to fill five minutes on the bus or an accidental three-hour bedtime gaming session long after you should be asleep.

The mechanics are pretty simple. Launch from your aircraft carrier and patrol the skies taking out enemy planes and ships before you succumb to enemy fire.

For this purpose there are only two controls – the left analog stick and the fire button X. Push the left-stick forward to fire the engines and turn by pushing left or right. There's an element of physics to it in that if you don't fire the engines you'll start to fall back towards the sea. However your plane can fly under water fro limited periods of time.

These controls offer a nicely nuanced style of play that requires enough skill to master to push arcade shoorter fans that little bit harder, in a good way of course. And it's pleasantly challenging offering extra rewards and unlocks for meeting in-game achievements. These can range from meeting a certain score threshold to destroying a set amount or variety of enemies. Luftrausers

Each achievement is tiered using a five-star system so you can keep track of how skilled you are becoming and the online leaderboards also offer the chance to measure your piloting prowess against other players on PSN.

Your plane is upgradeable too. There's a variety of chassis, weapons and engines to unlock and upgrade from the game's hangar in between sorties and they offer a decent variety in play styles whether you want to take down planes or go straight for the enemy ships which vary in size and can offer up a terrifying volume of flak.

Visually, it's all very much reminiscent of the bizarrely entertaining Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow from the plane's abiility to go under water to the uniforms and look of the officers that grace the game's screens in between play sessions. There's even a tough-looking female officer with an eye-patch as a nod to Angelina Jolie's character in the film.

Shooter fans should be pleasantly surprised by Luftrausers. It offers a decent challenge in the vein of easy-to-learn-tough-to-master. All of it feels worthwhile though when you nail that next achievement tier or jump above another friend's high score on the online leaderboards. Luftrausers

It's gloriously simple and fiendishly addictive and you can't ask much more than that of an arcade shooter now can you?

Luftrausers is out now on PS Vita, PS3 and PC via Steam.

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