Isotope: A Space Shooter offers more than your ordinary iPhone space shooter Geometry Wars clone. It adds some much needed ship customization as well as letting you choose how to upgrade your skills. These RPG elements really lift and separate Isotope from an overcrowded genre.
Isotope is played in enclosed arenas where you have to start the action by triggering a portal. Once you do all hell breaks loose, and you find yourself swarmed by pretty much every type of enemy you might expect. Enemies shooting, enemies with radial damage and enemies who try to ram you. Once you killed them all you can progress to the next room in the arena. When a couple of these rooms have been cleared you will encounter a boss battle. Bosses differ in size, challenge and tactics needed to beat them. I find it really nice to have different bosses for each level. As there are about 30 campaign levels you get a lot of different bosses. Of course some of them are used again but with increasing difficulty.
Once you finish a level you can choose to upgrade your skills if you have levelled up during the level. You can also enter the stores to buy a new ship or new weapons and function modules. A really handy satellite helping you by providing some sort of assistance in the battles is recommended. There are more than 40 different ships to choose from. To me the store and equipment screens are bland, and just looking at texts and boxes put me off. I would like to see the weapons and modules with some cool graphics. Now it is a bit like shopping through mail-order. Still the customization adds a lot of depth to the game, and you can choose to build a ship suitable to your gaming style and strategy.
There are five different control schemes, and all work quite well. The setup I used worked brilliantly for me with two virtual analog sticks that appear where you put your thumbs. The left controls movement while the right controls your shooting. I really prefer this method to those static controls many games use.
The game features retro graphics, and I am not totally convinced that it was the right choice for the game. It has been done so many times now. And since the customization adds a modern twist I think they should have gone for over the top ships with large cannons like you find in a game like Annihilation Arena. Now you only get a white outline of your ship. Still the graphics are quite good with some nice particle effects, and I have not encountered any slowdowns no matter how crowded the screen has been.
The campaign lets you unlock new worlds and arenas to conquer. There is not much story to the game, and maybe that is a good thing since you are out there to shoot, kill and destroy.
Once you finish the campaign the game adds some gamelife by letting you use your souped up carrier of doom in Survival mode. It is what it says it is, a mode where you have to survive for as long as possible. Online leader boards give bragging rights to those nifty enough.
Isotope is a good space shooter with some nice customization and boss battles. It isn’t the best looking or sounding out there, but you will definitely get your $2.99 worth of fun shooting action.
Presentation and graphics
Isotope features some retro space shooter graphics, and albeit done well we have seen these kinds of graphics before. Enemies are for the most part geometric shapes that sometimes are combined into larger bosses. Nice particle effects and no slowdowns as mentioned earlier in the review. The arena walls change colour as you play giving some variation to the black background.
The user interface is made to look retro, and it does but sadly this becomes old quickly. Having boxes instead of a proper ship to outfit is not engaging at all. And browsing the stores with just some texts instead of images doesn’t motivate you as good as having images of cool weapons.
Isotope features some techno music that I at least don’t recall once I quit the game, a bit bland. The sound effects are good with weapon fire and small explosions as enemies perish.
You can choose to play your own music alongside the sound effects in the menu.
The touch controls in Isotope works really well, and there are five different ways to set them up for your liking.
Isotope is best played on normal or hard difficulties as it shines when you get your adrenaline pumping swarmed by more than twenty enemies in close quarters.
Isotope gives you 30+ campaign missions with three different levels of difficulty. What really enhances gamelife is the customization, and being able to bring your own best configuration into the Survival mode with online leader boards.
Isotope is a good shooter not too far away from getting four stars, and I really think you should try the lite version to get a feel for it. Some aspects have been done better before, but still Isotope offers some fresh elements such as frequent boss battles and deep customization.