“Luftrausers is the perfect modern arcade game offering.”
Luftrausers is a delightfully simple yet highly energetic 2D arcade shooter. The game takes place on an open, 2D scrolling plain in which you pilot a customisable aircraft and attempt to employ skill, speed, tactics, timing and daring in order to overcome hordes of enemy crafts which seek to take you down. The aim of the game is simply to achieve as high a score as you can without being destroyed yourself, whilst attempting to complete certain objectives which can unlock a range of new customisation options for your craft. The premise and indeed the gameplay itself are simple, but hours of fun can be had playing this thrilling game, and here is why.
For a start, Luftrausers boasts a critical combination of fun, challenge, pace and variety which keeps what is otherwise a pretty basic arcade-style game alive. Every element of the game fits together perfectly as if it were a beautiful, sepia-tone jigsaw. From the gameplay, to the premise, to the soundtrack, to the look of the game, everything works, nothing seems out of place and all in all it certainly succeeds in entertaining. This may seem like a bit of a conclusive paragraph coming in a little early to the review, but it is necessary to inform you that you are about to hear about a truly fantastic little title, just so that you are correctly warmed up for the details. Now that we have done that part however, we can get down to looking the pieces which complete this fabulous puzzle.
Gameplay seems like as good a place as any to start us off. The controls in game are extremely simple; you can use the analogue stick to move your craft, and the right trigger to fire its weapons. That is absolutely all you need to know in order to play; you are met with a true arcade control system which doesn’t unnecessarily overcomplicate the game, and yet at the same time works very intuitively. Controlling the movement of the craft for example is simple; you simply push forwards in order to boost the engines, and either direct the craft with the stick while doing so or freefall and simply point yourself the right way. The basic control system in no way limits your ability to look awesome at what you are doing, and leaves things very nice and open for you to play how you want to play and how you feel most comfortable. The system for firing your weapons is the same; you simply tap or hold the trigger, whatever you prefer, and the craft fires forwards. If you wish to aim, you simply employ the ability to make swift and comfortable manoeuvres to point yourself at your target and proceed to tear them apart. The game is very nice to control then, and that makes it all the more pleasurable to play.
The aim of the game is all very simple, but that does not mean it is without challenge. You simply have to pilot your craft and destroy any other crimson-coloured menace who appears on your screen. You will be met with an onslaught of small aircraft, jets, boats, battleships, blimps… the list goes on, but the point is they are all out to get you, so it is your mission to get them first! Your main aim is to achieve as high a score as you possibly can by destroying as much as you can. You can gain multipliers by unleashing devastation in a shorter space of time, but otherwise it is simply the size of what you destroy which will determine how much you score for doing so. But creating chaos is only half the battle, with some fast, tactical defensive work being just as important as you play. You can flip, dive, climb, or even duck temporarily below the sea or fly above the cloud cover in order to avoid enemy fire. As long as you watch the condition of your aircraft as you fly, it is easy to learn what works best in certain situations. It is easy to repair your craft too; simply stop shooting for a short time and the craft will quite quickly regenerate. The game goes out of its way to make sure it is not too difficult to stop you having fun, but it is difficult enough to keep you wanting to play more and more, and be warned, addiction is highly likely!
The simplicity of the game does not make it boring, and a very simple yet effective pair of progression and customisation systems ensure that you can play exactly as you want to play, and that there is always some variety and something to try and achieve as you go. In terms of progression, there is a levelling-up system in game which simply increases once you hit certain score targets. Each level you increase in merits you a reward in the form of different customisation options for your aircraft. This customisation then works by splitting your craft into three key components; weaponry, bodies and propulsion. Different combinations can help you to achieve different results, with modifiers such as damage reductions, speed increases, a variety of means of causing large-scale destruction and a flurry of other factors coming into play depending on what parts you choose to use. Each part however also comes with its own missions attached. This can be anything from destroying a certain type of unit to pulling off certain achievements, and it certainly adds an extra element of challenge and variety into the game once again.
There is one final effect which the customisation options which you choose will also have on the game, and that is the mixing of the backing soundtrack. The parts which you choose will change the mix of the music slightly, keeping things interesting but never lowering the pace or the rhythm which adds significantly to the gameplay which you experience. The backing track, created fantastically by KOZILEK for the game, is fast paced, has a great rhythm and really puts out a lot of energy behind the action which you are creating on the screen. It is not too repetitive, even after long periods of play, and this is certainly aided by the customisation system which has been combined with it. It is an almost dubstep-like style of music, but not one which will only suit one audience, being carefully and skilfully crafted to undeniably fit well to the game, whatever your usual tastes might be, and this then makes it enjoyable.
This leaves the look of the game to be examined then to round off the full package. This is as simple as the play and the other features yet once again it works perfectly. Built in a sepia-tone environment with crimson models playing out the action within it, the game is both easy on the eye but also manages to be dynamic in the way it looks. The models used in all aspects of the game are very simplistic indeed, but do not fail to convey what it is that they are portraying to the player and thus do a fine job at playing their parts. The level of action which is visible on the screen at any one time is mind-blowing, and despite the simplicity of the graphical style which the developers have opted to use, the way that this looks can be described as nothing less than epic. Forget your multi-million dollar action movies; Luftrausers hits the spot just as nicely using some 2D shapes on a sepia backdrop!
Other than the delight which has just been described to you then, there are just a couple of other nice little features to mention. One is everybody’s little voice in the back of their mind telling them to try and do that something a little special, a little crazy… the achievements! Luftrausers succeeds in making the achievements you can gain by playing seem almost not entirely pointless. Some titles seem to throw these in as a last minute afterthought and something which does not really matter and will likely be ignored by the majority of players. Luftrausers is a game where it is actually quite fun to try and complete these, and they actually feel like a part of the package. There is also the feature which every arcade title, be it new or old, simply has to have; a high score table! Utilising the Steam network, Luftrausers will allow you to see how bad that initially incredibly looking score you just managed to hit really is compared to what the rest of the world are doing! Or, if you are actually really good at the game, it will allow you to look down upon those who are failing to challenge your overwhelming might and prowess! Whichever is the case for you, it is a nice finishing touch to the game which really rounds off the package nicely.
Luftrausers is the perfect modern arcade game offering. It is a game which the developers have taken their time over creating and have therefore completed it with little or no faults to be found. The features of the game, most importantly its gameplay, controls, looks, sounds and all-round entertainment factor, come together to make what feels like a perfectly finished 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, and it is a pleasure to be able to enjoy and admire it. Most importantly, if there is one thing you should note about Luftrausers, the game is fun. Very fun. And for an arcade title this is massively important. This is absolutely not a game which you should miss!
The Good – A perfectly formed game combining gameplay, controls, looks, sounds and most importantly fun in a fantastic all-encompassing arcade package.
The Bad – You are more than likely to lose a lot of your spare time getting addicted to this beautiful game!
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.