It’s been a long time since I played a flight sim on any platform, it’s a difficult genre to get right but when it is done well, its exhilarating. MetalStorm: Aces puts you in the shoes of a combat pilot, trained by an elite squad known as the Aces. But the Aces become greedy, they use their skills for personal gain and turn against you, the mission falls to you to hunt them down and bring them to justice.
I don’t really know why I expected but it wasn’t this, a dogfight flight simulation with RPG elements, MetalStorm: Aces boasts an extensive single player campaign with some real depth of story and fully fleshed out personalities. The single player campaign is divided into missions, each concerning one Ace pilot, there are 4 submissions for each and objectives can vary from taking down as many planes as possible in a set time to taking out ground targets or surviving with as little damage as possible, developers have really tried to add some diversity and it works, the story doesn’t feel repetitive and the different mission types make it a more immersive experience. On top of all this, is a well designed multiplayer mode where you can duke it out with your GC friends to earn parts and credits for your campaign.
The graphics are pretty amazing, developers were ambitious, but they’ve done their job right, environments are huge and detailed, crisp and clear and enemy planes fly around in a believable way, there’s a good variety of levels as well, like the desert canyon, snowy mountains and a nighttime cityscape. Explosions are well done and it’s quite satisfying flying through the debris left by your incinerated foes.
Background music is practically non-existent, but it’s really not a problem, it just fills the void left between the sound effects, the whine of your jet, or your missiles streaking off towards their target, they all sound quite realistic and the whole experience is very immersive. When navigating the menus, you’ll here a lot of background noise, as if you were standing in a busy aircraft hangar, and navigation buttons add to this illusion with the kind of machinery sounds you would expect in such an environment. MetalStorm: Aces is a masterpiece both audibly and visually.
My personal experience with flight sims is, they come with a complicated control method and are often quite limited in manoeuvrability. That’s not the case here, the iPads capabilities have been fully utilised and the control is incredibly simple, all movement is with the gyro, tilting left or right turns and tilting the top back and forth will make your plane climb or dive, there is no movement restriction, if you want to, you can fly straight up for some time, or nose towards the ground for. Death dive. Speed controls are on the left, and weapons on the right, easily accessible with thumbs. Advanced manoeuvres are activated with a swipe, horizontally triggers a barrel roll that’s great for evading missiles, swipe straight up and your plane flies straight up quickly and swiping down will execute a half loop, turning your plane around, great manoeuvres for shaking a plane off your tail or just to get out of trouble, these techniques take energy though so using them comes with some strategy in mind, energy does regenerate but it does so slowly. Missiles need time to lock but they do a lot of damage, while your machine guns are good for a fast unguided strike but don’t do a great deal of damage. With a little practice, you are even able to pull off some realistic aerial moves, stalls and loops and fast turns.
What I loved about this title is the upgrade options, as you advance, you can purchase stronger, more agile aircraft but each of these is also upgradable, using parts found in the campaign you can upgrade the parts of your plane that best suit your play style like upgrading engines to allow for more energy for manoeuvres and speed, machine guns for better close range damage and accuracy, faster targeting or better missile lock times. You can also pick one of 5 perks that boost these skills even further. You can also order more powerful ammunition, missiles that do more damage or track better and machine guns that can have crippling abilities like draining enemy energy or setting their guns on fire so they can’t fire or a time. You can also buy specialist planes with premium currency for a bit of an edge, you get a little bit when you begin a game but there’s no way to win premium currency so if you’re interested in these planes, you have to pay for them.
The online versus mode gives you the opportunity to earn more credits but they are hard won, you’ll be facing off with someone of similar skill level with all the same tricks as you. You’ll find it difficult to gain the distance required for a missile lock so these battles are largely decided by machine gun skill. You have a 2 minute time limit and both players can re-spawn limitless times, the winner is determined by the number of kills or by the most damage. If you’re not interested in the campaign, you can unlock all the planes by advancing your pilot skill here but you don’t need to play multiplayer to progress, so if you just want the campaign, that’s fine too.
I encountered a few minor bugs, the only real problem was the occasional force close, which only ever occurred in the menu screens and wouldn’t be a problem except that you often lose any credits you’ve just won. The Game Center achievements currently don’t seem to work and they don’t offer enough points. For a game that looks and plays so good though, these are fairly minor issues.
MetalStorm: Aces was a huge surprise, it’s unbelievable how good this game looks and how easy the control is. The flexibility to the play style makes this a real winner and the campaign is not only huge but also very challenging, it’ll take some time to play through. The multiplayer is reliable and enjoyable with rewards that make it worth your time, it’s not just an aside but a fully integrated part of the whole package. The bugs are only minor but it’s frustrating to lose credits, especially after a tough battle. This is a real gem hidden in the App Store, and with the possibility of more content in the future, this is a great pick.
MetalStorm: Aces Achievements