Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy, recently updated for iPhone 5 and iOS 6, was a surprising amount of fun. SG:AS is a universal title that works on the iPhone and iPad, but I played it mainly on the iPhone – simply because I started the single player campaign on that device (saved games don’t transfer), and I found the iPad too heavy to comfortably play with for more than a few minutes at a time.
The default control scheme is alright, but I preferred the Simulator set, which allow me to control pitch with the accelerometer, and yaw and acceleration with on-screen controls. It’s definitely a little touch-and-go at first because it’s hard to feel the on-screen feedback for air braking and missile launching, but once you get used to the sensitivity of the controls, SG:AS can be a lot of fun to play.
One Ticket to Air Supremacy, Please
Most of the single player campaign has to do with objective-based dogfighting, and it will take you a good 2-3 hours to complete, depending on your skill level. You’ll use unlimited machine guns, short-range, and long-range missiles to tear apart a horizon full of enemies (highlighted conveniently in yellow and red). Flares for getting rid of missile lock-ons are limited in quantity, so the best defense in SG:AS really is a good offense. It’s harder to die when there’s nobody left to shoot at you.
Whittling down the enemy numbers can often appear to be a task of Herculean proportions. Sky Gamblers really impressed me with the number of enemies it was able to display at one time on my iPhone 4S, and the lighting effects on my own plane were absolutely gorgeous. There isn’t too much obvious texture pop-up either – you can see for quite a long ways in this game, which helps with the immersion. I also played a few missions over AirPlay on my Mac (using AirServer), and it felt like I was sipping the future. It was just a small taste of things to come because the 4S can’t actually pump out graphics to rival the 360 and PS3, but I was amazed at how easily I could mirror all of that game on my MacBook’s screen.
The only part of Sky Gamblers that falls flat is the sound design, which really doesn’t cut it for me. I feel like I’m whispering across the sky, when I really should be screaming across it. The jet sound effects simply don’t sound loud enough, the weapons not fierce enough; so I found it easier to simply tune out most game noises and listen to the thumping in-game soundtrack.
To be honest, I didn’t spend much time dabbling with multiplayer, but it was surprisingly smooth when I did decide to give it a shot. There are options for local Wi-Fi matches, Game Center match-ups, or public games. Game types range from survival to team deathmatch to capture-the-flag, so there’s plenty of variety. If multiplayer simply isn’t your forte, there are also sets of challenge missions for you to complete, which can considerably ramp up the difficulty (although the way they’re presented is a little lackluster).
I wasn’t expecting all that much from Sky Gamblers, so I came away with a lot more than I expected. The flying mechanics feel solid, the enemies numerous enough to (almost) blot out the sun, and there’s a lot of great gameplay variety packed into the $3 universal package. It’s a pity that saved games don’t sync across iCloud, and the game could certainly use a bit more punch in the sound department, but those are really the only criticisms I have to level against Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy. This game beats the pants off of Ace Combat on iOS, and it’s the first title I’d recommend for a quick, portable flying fix.
Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy was provided by fortyseven communications for review on iSource. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.