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Review: Mortal Skies 2 – Anyone for a Arcade Shooter?

Available On: Android, iOS

Price: Free, $0.99

Download: Google Play | iTunes

Mortal Skies is an arcade type shooter developed by Erwin Jansen. I love games like these. When Starcraft 2 first came out for PC players, they integrated a mini-arcade game inside Starcraft 2 called “Lost Vikings” that played much like Mortal Skies 2. I do have to say that this game is great for being developed by one person. As you “blast your way to freedom” you’ll be playing as a plane shooting down other planes in a Asteroids type of gameplay. The design? It’s pretty great. I especially love the many different power ups you can choose from that tends to drop off of enemy planes after you blow them up.

This game offers a lot of content, including a way to publish your high scores online through a social networking platform called OpenFeint. OpenFeint will allow you to publish and compete with other peoples scores online. I enjoy competing with others, especially in a game like this as most people make arcade games really challenging. I can imagine that even on a game like this those players would be publishing their scores online just to say they got a new high score of 9 million. Then you’ll feel obligated to try and beat that score and waste your life away trying to beat it.

The game offers some really stressful but fun gameplay. You play as a plane from World War 2 destroying other planes that are trying to keep you from leaving the Prison Encampment. Obviously you’re not going to find much story in this game due to its arcade style of gameplay. You will find the need to constantly try and better your high score in the game though. Challenging yourself on the OpenFeint leaderboards will help if your trying to get really good at the game for some reason or another.

The game has some cool graphics too. It’s not retro style, but it’s still perfect for the genre that Erwin Jansen was developing the game for. I can’t say I was immersed in the graphics because I simply wasn’t. I was immersed in the fact that I was trying to get a high score while trying to grab every powerup I could possible get. That was what really immersed me. Mr. Jansen did a fantastic job developing the gameplay. It really reminded me of Lost Vikings (sorry, I have no old school background at all!) back in Starcraft 2 that I used to be play constantly. I think that the gameplay could be refined a bit more but you can tell where the developers attention was at. It definitely wasn’t the graphics, it wasn’t the sounds, it was all dumped into the gameplay of Mortal Skies 2. Again, the gameplay still could be refined a bit more as there were a few buggy bits I came across.

One of the very creative parts of the game is the powerups. Yeah, it’s something you would expect in a arcade styled shooter. Adding powerups that will give you wing-men to follow you around the battlefield was a very creative idea. So was the machine gun attachments for the plane along with the massive fireballs that decimated your enemies almost instantly. I think my favorite powerup was the machine gun as it shot tons of bullets out at once completely wrecking the battlefield. There were definitely no enemy planes putting me back in my prison! As they fell to their death I almost felt a sort of enjoyment and cheerfulness watching them fall from the air only to land to their death.

I played the free version of the game as the only thing that happens when purchasing the full version is it removes the ads. The majority of people who play the game for free won’t want to purchase the full game, I think. There are so many ads in the free version that I think people would have a higher chance of getting frustrated with them and uninstalling the game never to come back again then to say, “Oh hey, let me buy the full version to get rid of this extremely intrusive ads.” The ads are ridiculous. Upon launching the game I experienced two full screen ads along with a pop up ad. It was really, really annoying and I don’t see why anyone would purchase the game to get rid of them instead of getting frustrated. Obviously those who love this game will want to purchase it, but I think the majority of players will either walk away or just be fine with playing the free version. I really think the developer, Erwin Jansen, should of put some extra content in the paid version to increase players will to purchase the game because as of this moment, there is no reason to purchase the full version (or ad free version) at all.

This game does have its pluses though, yeah the ads are annoying as heck, but the XP system Mr. Jansen has developed into the game is really nicely done and very well designed. How do you earn XP? Well, it’s earned by simply playing the game and reaching different milestones that you can reach in the game. I assume that these milestones are different achievements to accomplish such as finishing the game without dieing once. I had a difficult time figuring out how it all worked, but I think that is how it actually works. Not 100% sure because it’s not very clear, but I think that’s how it works.

XP can be used to upgrade your airplane statistics. You’ll be able to upgrade things like it’s flight speed, bonus damage and bullet damage. It’s cool how it isn’t a level up system, but you earn points to put in different stats over time. It’s a different way to do a stat system, definitely, but it still could use some work as it takes a super long time to get these stats. I’d almost rather just take a level up system to get the stats faster. One cool thing about Mortal Skies 2 is that there isn’t many bugs, there are some that I came across in the gameplay such as massive airplanes refusing to die, but overall there are not a lot of bugs to try and get past.

Lastly, I like that the game has a couple different environments instead of just one as most games would have. Starcraft 2’s “Lost Vikings” only had one environment and that got really boring to look at really fast. Erwen Jansen added 9 different environments that your play can travel across as he tries to escape the Prison Encampment. The variety is great and I hope to see a few more environments if he decides to add more content to Mortal Skies 2.

The game has a bunch of different options for you to spend real money. There isn’t much reason to by them unless you want a variety of different airplanes to play from along with purchasing XP points early with real money. This is a pain as we already have to deal with the many fullscreen and popup ads, and then he’s requesting we pay for special items, how annoying is that?

It’s a good game. I love how the gameplay works, but it seriously has its flaws when it comes to ads and money.

Now onto the final verdict of Erwin Jansen’s game, Mortal Skies 2…

GRAPHICS:

The graphics were alright. For some of the past games I have reviewed, they have had some amazing graphics even for them being an arcade style genre. The graphics in Mortal Skies 2 wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t bad. I think it fit just right for the game as looking at the graphics wasn’t really a essential or important part of the game. Mainly you were focused on the gameplay so the graphics did not matter is much. Honestly, I expected them to be a whole lot worse then what was implemented in the game.

I do have to admit that for a one man team, Erwin Jansen did an amazing job at the graphics. They are great considering it was only one person who designed the whole game himself. You’d expect a studio to do this kind of game as they have the time to do that, but Erwin Jansen did it all himself. Perfecting the game probably took some time, but again, considering it’s a one man team, the graphics are great.

Overall for the type of genre the game is (Arcade & Action) I think that the game  has pretty good graphics. Again, they aren’t really worth paying attention to because of how immersive the gameplay is. It’s very, very fun to the point where the graphics don’t really matter. I thought it was important to note that they weren’t extraordinary graphics as has been the theme for some of my earlier reviews.

AUDIO:

Okay, even for a one man team, the sounds were terrible. Some were good, but most if was terrible. There were very little sound effects that happened in the game. I don’t even remember there being any music at all. There were some firing sounds but they were very silent and the quality of the sound was terrible. Its very obvious that Erwin Jansen’s talent is not in sound as it was absolutely terrible. I do have to admit that I liked the button sounds though, I think those were the only good ones out of the whole game. I’m not going to give him the excuse of being a one man team as I have seen others who have done a one man team with a ton better job at done sound.

I think he really could of done a whole lot of a better job with it. It really was bad and I do think the audio and sound is a essential part of the gameplay. You can’t really slack on firing sounds especially when it meshes with the gameplay. Playing in silence was not a whole lot of fun. I was still immersed in the gameplay though, trying to dodge all the planes, tanks and sandbags was very difficult and proved to be quite a challenge to overcome. That may just be because I’m not that good at games like this. They’re still a whole lot of fun though!

GAMEPLAY:

The gameplay is extraordinarily fun. I love, love, love it. It’s difficult enough to have a challenge to overcome and its challenging enough to be engaging and immersive. You can tell that Erwin Jansen’s focus was on the gameplay. Boy, did he deliver with it too! The powerups really added to the gameplay. There were tons of different powerups to get. They tend to drop off of planes you blow up. You’ll be finding powerups such as wingmen (other friendly planes who follow you across the map for a set amount of time), fireballs, gatling guns. They’re all very creative and really add to the overall fun factor of the game. He definitely did a really good job on the gameplay.

What wasn’t fun? Obviously the lack of sounds really added to the overall lack of fun in the game. Also, when you get to a certain point on the game you’re told to dodge a bunch of bullets, it is basically impossible to dodge that and you lose all your live very, very fast. This was extremely frustrating as I was unable to finish the level and move onto the next environment the game had to offer. It would be at least helpful if the bullets the planes shot weren’t constantly headed your way all the time and therefore weren’t blocking you from trying to dodge the planes as the game told you to do.

It was frustrating, but overall, the gameplay of the game was super fun and I would play it again on the chance that I got a invincibility powerup right before it told me I need to dodge all the bullets. Oh well, I do have to say great job, this was honestly the best part of the game (as it should be) and I really felt immersed in the gameplay.

REPLAYABILITY:

The replayability of the game is crazy. You’re always wanting to try and trump your past high score and if you’re playing on the OpenFeint leaderboards that’s going to really increase your will to keep playing the game. Getting high scores is really what this game is all about, along with trying to top other peoples high scores on the OpenFeint leaderboards. The game is really hard as your score gets higher and progresses through the map, so getting a high score gets more difficult as you move along in the game.

Other than that, I found no other reason to really “play again” other than trying to experience all the different levels that Erwin designed. Obviously, the game could use a lot more replayability. If it had more, I imagine a lot more people would be willing to play the game. But yeah, the will to get past the level is the driving replayability of the game. Other than that, there isn’t much to expect replayability wise at all.

OVERALL:

Overall, I had fun with the game. A lot of fun. I don’t see much reason to go back and play though (aside from seeing what the other levels look like). The graphics were alright and the sound was absolutely terrifying (aside from the menu buttons). I kind of look forward to a Mortal Skies 2 sequel as I would love to see both the sounds and graphics improve along with some improvement to the gameplay.

From Mortal Skies 2 you can tell that Erwin Jansen, the developer, is very talented with what he does. All it really needs now is some improvement then I think the game will be pretty solid.  I hope he does create another one, I would definitely be a day one buyer as I hope to see more improvement. If he does make another, I will be doing another review mainly focusing on how he’s changed it up and improved upon the past work as I can imagine the gameplay will be the standard arcade feel.

Overall, great game, most people would enjoy it while a lot wouldn’t.

Hope you enjoyed this review! If you have any comments, played this game before or have some general input, feel free to leave a comment below!

FINAL SCORE – 6/10