The mobile market is filled with thousands of different types of games, but realistic aerial-combat is not something that is often touched upon.
The reason behind that is very clear – the gameplay of this genre is just too specific and only appeals to a niche audience that enjoys it.
Several franchises such as Ace Combat have been fairly successful over time, so it’s not a dead genre by any means. But those games have never been ported to mobile devices officially, and as a result, we had to rely on less-than-favorable knock-offs.
Enter Sky Fighters 3D, a mobile game that attempts to take that gameplay to new heights. Will it be another case of crash and burn? Let's find out.
One thing that usually puts people off from flight-based games is complicated controls that take a lot of time and patience to be mastered, especially if there is no way to disable inverted flying.
Surprisingly, Sky Fighters 3D ignores the blueprints set by other games and offers very easy-to-follow controls that anyone can learn in a very short time.
You have movement buttons on the left side of the screen, and the right side has buttons for shooting and missiles. There are also dedicated buttons for acceleration and slowing down which is located a little to the bottom right.
Once you’ve taken flight, you won’t need to use the acceleration anymore unless you want a boost, and the movement in every direction is very easy to control.
All of the weapons available have a limited number of uses before slowly recharging again, so you have to keep your options varied and cannot spam the same attack endlessly.
The gameplay is simple too, as most of the time you will either find yourself shooting at fighter jets, battleships in the sea, or land-based structures.
As you progress through the levels, you will eventually face all types of enemies at the same time and you will need to manage your priorities accordingly.
There are a few rough edges in the level design part of things, and the most prominent issue is the target circles. There’s a mechanic that often glitches too, which is when the enemies lock onto you with their missiles.
When that happens, the game begins to give you warnings about their missiles, but I have never once been hit by them even if I stop moving around much – so I can only assume the game warns you at the wrong times. Either that or the enemy missiles just don’t exist. I’m not sure what the issue is, but it’s definitely there.
Fortunately, if you ignore these issues – the game is actually fun to play and I found it very entertaining to fight airborne targets.
The AI is too easy to fight against most of the time, but the number of enemy fighter jets keeps increasing in the later levels and that makes things more exciting as you will get hit if you're not reacting fast enough.
The battleships are well-placed as well and I found it very fun to constantly shift my focus between them and the jets. I would fly towards the battleships at low altitude, shoot my missiles at them, then flip towards the airborne targets and start shooting at them next.
There’s a lot of enjoyment to be had in the game and it’s great fun while it lasts.
Sky Fighters 3D does not have too many levels, and while it has challenge modes that let you play things like ‘Free for All’ and ‘Team Deathmatch’, unfortunately, it is against bots and does not have any online capabilities.
So when the game starts to feel boring at that point, buying new fighter jets to experience their small differences might help in keeping things fresh.
There are no annoying ads so at least that issue is out of the way, and you won’t have to grind a lot to beat even the more difficult levels as you get enough coins to upgrade your planes.
On the presentation side of things, the graphics of the game are rather simple, but they’re not low quality by any means.
Everything has a decent number of textures and the environment does not feel empty – it just isn’t as HD as the current standard of mobile games. Thankfully, this allows the game to run smoothly even on low-end phones, so that’s a plus.
The UI of the game is very poorly made and strongly gives you the feeling that it is put together by someone who just wanted to be done with this aspect of development. Pieces of text often exit the bars of what it’s supposed to be on (such as the health bar). And the menus feel very unprofessional too.
There’s not much to say about the polish as the game has too many rough edges, but it mostly functions fine.
The soundtrack is okay for the first 30 minutes, but the fact there is only one tune to listen to for the entirety of the game makes it very repetitive and I couldn’t stand it after a certain point.
There’s a lot of fun to be had with Sky Fighters 3D if you’re into the genre – but if you’re someone who starts feeling the repetition in things fast, this is not the mobile game for you.
The game is too short and has some questionable design choices that stop it from greatness, hopefully, the developers can learn from this experience and do better next time.