Hands-On With Above & Beyond Air Combat

17 year old Josh Rosen has been working hard for the past 9 months on his upcoming iPhone game Above & Beyond Air Combat a.k.a. SciFly II.  The game has made a bunch of progress since the last announcement, and Josh is definitely the most skilled developer at his age.  The game features some pretty nifty aircraft along with some great customization options and pumping soundtrack.

Above & Beyond Air Combat should be very familiar with fans of the first game SciFly or even F.A.S.T.  The game is a dogfighting game where you can either conquer islands or survive the waves of enemies.  There are 3 different game modes: gauntlet (fly through the rings), survival (survive enemy waves), and conquest (capture all enemy islands).  There are online highscores for both the Gauntlet and Survival modes using the new and improved OpenFeint 2.1.

OpenFeint 2.1 brings a huge improvement over OpenFeint 2.0, and its integration into Above & Beyond is definitely a good thing.  OpenFeint has just turned into the “other Plus+”, and for me, it really doesn’t matter if a game has Plus+ or OpenFeint anymore.  Above & Beyond successfully utilizes the OpenFeint features also by featuring online highscores and a slew of awarding achievements.

The controls for Above & Beyond are all tilt-based, but that’s most definitely not a bad thing this time.  The game features calibration that can be accessed through the pause menu, and I found the controls to be the best accelerometer controls for an iPhone game.  Sure I’ve played Super Monkey Ball and Crash Kart, but the accelerometer controls in A&B are very accurate.  I found myself being able to play the game in the car while moving of course, an accomplishment that I wasn’t able to accomplish with any other game.  If you have been frustrated with accelerometer controls, A&B will surely break that frustration with awe.

Customization in A&B is very extensive, and it includes changing colors, adding guns in 3 different places, and of course buying new ships.  The customization menu is filled with all sorts of things like shields, guns, etc.  To change to color of your ship, simply scroll through the colors and tap what you like.  There are main colors, secondary, and third colors to customize with a choice of around 15 different colors.  Along with the color customization, you are able to place you gun either on the tips of your wings or in the middle, and once you fly into battle, your gun will shoot out from wherever you placed it.  This is a very cool feature, and the customization is definitely a feature you should be looking out for in A&B.

Above & Beyond Air Combat beat my expectations by a mile, and while I didn’t really expect too much, I was blown away by the execution and thought that went through A&B.  Customization, game modes, OpenFeint, etc. are all very nicely implemented into the game, and I cannot wait for this game to finally hit the App Store shelves.  The game is still in beta, so there are still things that are prone to change, but the core gameplay is very well thought out and very well executed.  I am extremely happy with A&B’s progress and execution, and dogfighter fans should basically be raving for this game.

In the meantime, check out this awesome trailer while raving and drooling.

About Daniel

I have been an iPhone game addict ever since the NES emulator came out on the 1.1.4 iPhone 2G. After 2.0 and the App Store came out, my iPhone homescreen has never been the same. Other than writing reviews for App Store games, I play soccer/football, American football, volleyball, and golf. I love going to the beach and fishing on the pier. Some games not available on iPhone/iPod Touch that I truly love are the Call of Duty series, Guitar Hero III, Madden NFL 09, and PGR: Gotham Racing.

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