For a while now, the dogfighting genre has been a staple of console gaming. Whether it’s Star Fox or Warhawk, battles in the sky have often been some of the best gaming experiences on home systems. These games demand cutting-edge graphics, tight controls, and lots of action on screen. So what happens when you bring all of this to the iPad? Can a game genre that has been refined on controllers and big screens be translated to a touch screen? There are a few hiccups in the translation, but for the most part, the answer is a resounding yes.
A large part of Sky Gamblers: Cold War’s success derives from the fact that this isn’t the first Sky Gamblers–the developer has had lots of practice to refine the experience. I had a blast playing Cold War all the way through its meaty campaign and its robust online multiplayer. There’s no shortage of content here, with dozens of planes and nine gameplay modes that can be played solo and seven that can be played either through local wifi or online. Whether you happen to be in the mood for a game of capture the flag or team deathmatch, you’ll find what you’re looking for.
A significant chunk of your time will be spent on the single-player campaign, as playing through it is how you unlock more planes. The game fumbles through a rather boring and poorly told story set during (when else?) the Cold War era of American history. With this sort of game, a fantastic storyline isn’t exactly high on the priority list, but it still would have been nice to see a little more polish here. After a (mercifully) short cutscene at the start of each stage, the player is thrown into the action, which is where Cold War truly excels. I was impressed by the variety of gameplay throughout the campaign–stages range from just your regular shoot-em-up dogfight battles to defending targets on the ground by shooting from a mounted gun.
The action never stops for a moment in this game, as the objectives and battles continue along at a brisk pace as you progress through each stage. With a plane to pilot and different types of missiles to manage, a solid control scheme is important, and Cold War provides two: one that uses the accelerometer and one that uses a virtual joystick. In general, I’m not a fan of accelerometer controls for games, and this time it wasn’t any different–the virtual joystick setup, however, worked much better. While the controls weren’t quite as tight as some games I’ve played on iOS, they are well done, especially considering how much is happening on-screen at a time.
Even after you’ve completed the solo campaign, there’s still a tun of fun to be had with local multiplayer, or online, which I enjoyed the most. There is a quick play option so you can jump directly into the fray, or if you’ve got something specific in mind, you can set up your own match. With dozens of maps, planes, and a wide selection of gameplay modes, it’ll be a long time before you run out of things to do.
Make no mistake, this is not a casual game you can pop in and out of while you wait on the bus; this is a hardcore game that will demand your full attention and a lot of your time. If you enjoy dogfighting games (or just lots of explosions), this game is for you. While it’s not without its flaws, Sky Gamblers is a series that continues to push the iPad to provide intense, console-quality experiences.
Here’s an App Store link for Sky Gamblers: Cold War; it’s priced at $4.99.
Disclosure: This app was purchased independently by the post author. For information on our review policies please see our About page.