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Pilot’s Path Review
Review Score:

Pilot’s Path, a resource-collecting, open-world adventure from Happymagenta, is now available from the app store. Featuring a cool retro style and an expansive world to explore, Pilot’s Path creates a casual experience with wide appeal.

Pilot’s Path Pros:

  • Great retro graphics and enjoyable resource-collecting adventure
  • Soundtrack consists of ambient noise, allowing sound effects to take center stage
  • Dual-sticks offer intuitive and responsive control method
  • Randomly-generated maps boost replay value
  • GameCenter integration for achievements to earn

Pilot’s Path Cons:

  • No quick repair option similar to refueling method
  • Pixelated graphics make easy identification of some ground objects a challenge

Your backstory involves a career as an Air Force pilot that gets derailed, forcing you to take missions from a ruthless criminal kingpin in order to make a living. You helm a chopper whose base resides within a large island chain consisting of more than 4 dozen land masses. The layout of the islands is randomly generated, so gameplay feels fresh and replay value gets a major boost. Your helicopter is susceptible to hull damage and depleted fuel supplies, so you’ll need to keep an eye on your gauges and take care of the details often or risk crashing and burning. No major worries, though, as you’ll be provided with a new craft without delay. Lack of available cargo space is also a concern, so you’ll want to use money earned by completing missions and delivering goods to increase your fuel tank size, available cargo space, and hull strength. You can also pay to boost your overall speed, your max altitude, and your radar radius. The radar in the upper right corner of your screen indicates where nearby islands are, as well as items that you can pick-up. While you might expect to engage in combat with opposing forces or have to fight for the right to nab certain goods, there is none to be found. Instead, the challenge lies in managing resources to complete the task-at-hand. Helpful items like extra fuel, repair kits, and auto-pilots can aid in extending missions when used effectively.

Graphically, Pilot’s Path employs a retro look with an overhead view that gives you a zoomed out shot of your chopper and the area below. Trees, huts, and the like are easily identified from that height, but other collectable items aren’t always so easy to identify until you land on top of them, at which point a text label will clue you in to their nature. One of the early missions involves locating a tobacco plantation and returning a sack of tobacco to your base, though it’s not clearly evident where the tobacco field is or which pick-up is the sack. This did cause a little frustration. Nice touches like your shadow indicating where you’ll touch down or the screen edges glowing red when there is an imminent danger offer invaluable visual feedback. There is even an extremely helpful map feature that allows you to drop pins to mark locations of interest. There are 3 bars on the screen’s left side that indicate your altitude, speed, and throttle, while 3 bars on the screen’s right side show cargo availability, remaining fuel level, and amount of hull damage. The soundtrack features ambient sounds, providing no musical accompaniment to the experience except in the menus. Sound effects play a major role, as you’ll spend most of your time listening to the whirring of the blades, with occasional bits like fuel tanks filling up or metal-on-metal clanging while repairing your craft. Controls utilize a floating dual-stick approach, with the right stick controlling elevation and the left stick controlling direction and speed. Elevation plays a key role, as you can crash into objects if you aren’t high enough, though the overhead nature of the game makes it quite difficult to tell whether or not you have proper clearance. The controls work well and become second nature fairly quickly.

Replay value is quite good, as the randomly-generated maps don’t allow you to memorize the locations of all islands/items. In fact, you could simply fly around for hours at a clip, just exploring all of the areas and tracking down random goods to maintain enough coin to keep your craft in tiptop shape. GameCenter integration allows for a number of achievements to earn. Pilot’s Path also has the proper functionality to use an iPhone/iPod as a controller and an iPad as the screen. A universal app on launch sale for $0.99 (regularly $3.99), Pilot’s Path is an engaging and delightful 4.5-Dimple experience.

Pilot's Path Review, reviewed by Kevin on 2012-10-08T02:00:34+00:00 rating 4.5 out of 5

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