1951 – World War One, Treehouse Ltd.’s recent release best described as a cross between a top-down shooter and a dogfighting game, is now available from the app store. With its stylish presentation, RPG elements, and engaging controls, 1951 creates an exciting combat experience.
1951 -- World War One Pros:
- Stunning visuals
- Intuitive and simple controls
- RPG elements
1951 -- World War One Cons:
- Collision and hit detection need tweaking
- OpenFeint pop-ins are annoying
Rewriting history, 1951 plunges us into a world where the Archduke’s assassination that started World War One and eventually led to World War Two never happened, thereby slowing the technological advances brought about during those times. As a result, the first World War doesn’t take place until the 1950’s and we’re still flying biplanes. It’s an interesting backstory, but ultimately one that has little bearing on the gameplay itself. Wave and Survival modes offer two ways to play the game, with either selectable after navigating through the cluttered and confusing pilot selection screen. Here you can use one of three profile slots to choose from the three pilot types, each with a unique special ability. After choosing a game mode, you find yourself airborne in your red biplane, with enemies sneaking in from the outskirts to try to take you out. There are two ways to be taken out: gunned down or aerial collision. Oddly, the latter is the one that most often does us in.
Based on your success in battle, you earn experience points that are used to level up your pilot, earning new perks and abilities that increase your firepower, cause bullets to bounce off of you, cause you to take no damage from collisions, increase your hit rate, improve your overall speed, and more. It’s a great way to tailor the game to your style and allow you to focus on improving the aspects that will actually help you. It also introduces an element of strategy and gives you a reason to keep playing when the game starts to get monotonous.
The graphical element is quite stunning, as the ground below has a striking level of photorealism to go along with the various weather elements and cloud cover that you’ll fly through. Your health is in the upper left corner, while your air speed indicator takes up a lot of real estate in the lower left. The lower right houses your special ability button, your ad hoc repair button, and the all-important Fire button. Be careful using this, as it overheats pretty quickly. The upper right shows which of your special moves are able to be performed at any given time. Off-screen enemies are indicated by a marker until they come into view. This both allows you to chase after them, as well as anticipate where they’ll be coming from, as they often fly right at you when they come into range, attempting a mid-air collision that will inflict varying levels of damage to your craft, including sending you plummeting back to Earth.
The soundtrack is average, switching between sweeping musical interludes and fast-paced rock when you activate a perk or special ability. Controls employ both the accelerometer and touch. You move around by tilting left or right as needed. The more severe the tilt, the faster you’ll spin. Shooting requires tapping and/or holding the Fire button. Swiping left or right on the screen will initiate a barrel roll, while swiping up will result in an Immelmann turn and swiping down performs a loop-the-loop. A throttle slider on the left can be dragged up or down to control speed, and there are buttons next to the Fire button that can be tapped to perform quick repairs or activate your chosen ability. For the most part, these worked well, though the gesture-based movements often required multiple attempts to cause our plane to perform the requested maneuver.
We enjoyed playing for the most part, though we did take issue with a couple of things. We liked that a single shot did not take out enemies, but it did seem that when firing a barrage that passed across another craft, we would only get credited for a few shots. Not sure if the enemy is supposed to be above or below our volley when this happens, but it was frustrating and we felt a bit cheated, as its not that easy to target the enemy effectively. We want credit when we lock on and get off some good shots. The collision system also is very unclear as to how severe a collision is. It appears that, like the previous issue, the planes are passing at different levels, thus causing varying levels of damage. Because of the top-down view, it is impossible to tell how close you are to the enemy. The health bar shows how close you may be to going down, but with some passes causing little to no damage and others really packing a wallop, you just never know what the outcome will be. Also, OpenFeint pop-ins were very annoying, with accidental taps stopping the action and launching the social networking program. We’d rather find out about any earned achievements after we’ve crashed.
Replay value is pretty good, with the one-more-try factor working at full strength. OpenFeint is used for global leaderboards (both Survival time and Wave score) and achievements (22 in all). The button used to go to the mode selection screen is labeled Single Player, which seems to imply that a multiplayer mode may be in the works. There is also a game mode stat space that appears to be a placeholder for a future update. Adding multiplayer would give the game a terrific boost and greatly increase its replay value. For $1.99, 1951 – World War One is a visually impressive and enjoyable 4-Dimple affair that should only get better with a few simple tweaks.
1951 - World War One Review,