Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy
Namco, App Store
High-end graphics even on older devices; elaborate and responsive controls; great multiplayer
Steep barrier to entry; somewhat characterless
Received wisdom is that iOS games have to be accessible, but flight sim Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy is an uncommonly tough nut to crack. Not in an unpleasant way, mind – this is a bold attempt to make if not a full-fat flight sim for mobile devices then at least a semi-skimmed one.
Even the tutorial takes very few prisoners. If you’re not willing to learn how to pilot a plane, you don’t stand a chance in the meat of the game – tackling enemies with bullets, rockets, flares and tactical stalls.
Despite the simulation stylings, this is an action game first and foremost, so you don’t need to worry about learning how to land or remembering which of 208 different buttons activate the radar. It’s a less stupid Top Gun, essentially – not a pair of mirror shades or food-base nookie scene in sight. So you can’t get away with aiming in a bogey’s general direction and holding down fire, but instead need to gauge where they’re going to be by the time your bullets reach them rather than where they at the moment of firing.
Multiple control sets offer a wildly different experience depending on how you want to approach Air Supremacy. Simple touch-steering, tilt controls or a full-on on-screen HUD for the more dedicated simhead.
Once you’ve made your way through the training and some of the campaign, you’ll find that the real game awaits in the impressively high-speed and unforgiving multiplayer mode, which really isn’t too far off going toe-to-toe with console games. Visually Air Supremacy’s a treat too, being as it is one of the first draft of high-end 3D games made with the new iPad in mind, but it coaxes great things out of even a first-generation iPad or iPhone 4. Landscapes are a little barren if you get too close (which is a bad idea anyway), but the shiny metal fighter jets are treat to behold.
Macworld Australia’s buying advice
Too hardcore for the more casual iOS gamer even despite alternative controls aimed that way and admittedly Sky Gamblers is a little on the bland side, but it’s a hugely impressive and surprisingly complicated action flight sim that genuinely rivals its console equivalents.