GAME REVIEW: Star Marine: Infinite Ammo

I love my iPhone, and it has probably become my primary gaming device, having such a wide selection of games in my pocket is great. A lot of iOS games are quick, easy to play time-killers and others require lots of time and effort to master, Star Marine is definitely the latter. Read on to see what I thought:

After getting the general game setup done you’re launched into the Prelude level. We learn, by way of a cool comic panel cut-scene, that Arc took a shortcut (Fom where? To where?) through a hostile planet system only to have to land due to a spaceship malfunction… Don’t you just hate those? Upon landing he’s greeted by some mean looking robots, taken to their ship and held captive.

The story’s solid, convenient, but solid. It’s nothing new but it does it’s job; creating a ‘believable’ situation that you have to run n’ gun you’re way out of. All it comes down too really is that if you want a deep story from a video game, then iOS games probably aren’t the best place to look, and least of all side-scrollers, these are all about the gameplay and graphical design.

Arc’s handcuffs explode and you’re immediately faced with some running and some gunning. It’s here we learn the controls, which are probably the best side-scrolling touch controls out there. I think they work especially well because instead of having a tiny virtual button to mash, you have a virtual analogue stick to twizzle around in order to shoot stuff. This control setup is by far my favorite thing about the game, and my favorite control setup out of all the iOS games of this type.

The graphics are great too, a real throwback to retro Mega Drive games. Although the first few levels are a bit same-y, the settings definitely follow genre conventions, From grey space stations to sandy planets; Star Marine takes you across the universe. The character designs are good, you can definitely spot some of the developers influences from other video games.

The main robot enemies look like something out of Halo, Arc himself looks like he’s wearing N7 armor and I even thought that a saw a Venonat at one point in the grassy level (where else?!). The weapons look awesome too and once fully kitted-out, they do tons of damage. Despite traveling to all these different locations and meeting various evil-looking bad guys, Glitchsoft do a great job of bringing consistency and solidarity to the gameplay.

Another fantastic aspect of Star Marine is the audio, which makes a great accompaniment to the gameplay. Everything from the epic soundtrack during the title screen to the ‘pew pew’ of the assault rifle, it’s all there as expected from a neo-retro game.

However, nothing is perfect. And you’ll find the imperfections very soon on in the game. You get chucked in right at the deep end with loads of enemies, which sounds fun, but I found those first few levels incredibly hard. I was stuck for a couple of days on the first three missions, having to start over and try different upgrades at different points in the game (little tip: upgrade the assault rifle and Arc’s health straight away, that will help immensely).

I think the main reason for this is that there are no degrees of difficulty, it’s just the one which seems impossible to start with. The enemies seem to do as much damage to you as you do to them, which isn’t necessarily the best thing with this style of gameplay, making Arc feel a lot less badass and kind of like he deserved to be captured. Also, new weapons and some of the upgrades cost loads of ‘gems’ (the in-game currency), which are very hard to come by at the beginning.

Unless, of course, you want to pay real money for them and the fact that the gems are so hard to acquire makes me feel as though GlitchSoft’s business plan relies on us buying them via in-app purchases. I could go into a huge debate about wether paying more for the game and having no in-app purchases vs. a cheaper game and buying extras. I know developers need to make money, or we wouldn’t have games to play. I guess it comes down to personal choice. What would you rather do?

Having said all that, once you get into the rhythm of the game, and I recommend that you do, it’s great fun and the upgrades and new weapons are a brilliant incentive to keep playing.

I’d love to know what you thought of Star Marine, so lets get some discussion going in the comments below.

GS Reviewer: Tom

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