Hey, look who crawled out from under his rock. It is I, Dave, here to bring you a review of Mortal Skies. I haven’t written a review in like 1000 years so I apologize if this is a flaming pile of garbage, but then again, that wouldn’t be any different from the norm.
Mortal skies is a top down shooter, in the vane of Xevious. Top down shooters like this are, at their core, a very simple concept; the screen moves forward, you shoot stuff, stuff blows up, you win. It’s the subtle things that define a game such as this; things like power ups, difficulty, visual appeal, and most importantly, accuracy of controls.
Let’s get this out of the way right now, Mortal Skies is hard. That’s not really a bad thing, a game like this should be hard. If it was too easy, the simple nature of the game play would become boring quickly. It is the challenge that kept people pouring quarters in the machines back in the 80′s (when I was just a baby). In a top down shooter I want to see so many bullets flying around that I can barely thread the needle between them. This game delivers in that regard, but it’s also hard a bad reason; and that is that the controls aren’t responsive enough. They tried to give the plane a more realistic feel, so it actually banks, and for some reason there is a slight delay in when you initiate a command to move, and when the plane actually moves. In a twitchy fast game such as this, that is devastating to the experience. I found the touch controls to be virtually unusable in Mortal Skies. The tilt controls were much better, but still not perfect. That said, they do offer the ability to set the default position as far as the angle of the device goes. I hate really hate when a game forces you to put the phone in a certain position when playing with tilt. Overall, the tilt controls, while not perfect, are absolutely the way to play the game, once you get used to the feel.
The game play is exactly what you would expect, you fly around and shoot stuff. You have 3 lives to start with and a health bar, so it’s not one of the those one shot and you’re dead type of games. (Thank god, because there are some situations where it is almost impossible to avoid getting hit.) The power ups are pretty generic, but effective. They are kind of par for the course in a game like this. You get them from killing bigger more major ships. They are things like rockets, that lock on to any target and things that spread your bullets wider, so you can hit more enemies and do more damage. There is also health boosts and things like that lying around.
The graphics are the best part of the game, without question. The art is very well done, and even though it’s top down, the ships have a very 3d feel to them. This becomes more apparent when you bank to make a turn. The ground under you is very clean and nice looking, and there is a pretty good amount of variety. The sound is also good, featuring a nice sound track and good explosions.
The developers also included their own achievement system (all the rage you know), to extend the life of the game make you go for that extra high score on a level. There is even a bonus level that can be unlocked for getting all of the achievements. It’s a nice feature to keep you coming back to the game for more, but I would have preferred Open Feint or one of those systems, as they feel more like mean something (but without a unified platform for that stuff, I guess none of it means anything).
Overall, Mortal Skies is a great looking top down shooter, but it’s hampered by unresponsive controls. If the controls were tighter, this game would be near the top of the genre on the iPhone, but unless the developer posts a nice update, as it stands the game is just passable.