Chaotic aerial combat empowers “Luftrausers”

5/5 Stars


By Colin Haroutunian, Staff Reporter

Superficially, its appearance is underwhelming. The dull color palette and bit-like graphics can be easily dismissed. Yet, an impeccable flight system is formed from the air-based combat in Luftrausers, fleshed out with numerous complexities on the speed, health and other traits of a controllable plane.

Upon launching the plane, there is a brief period of calm. In a matter of seconds, though, the definitive chaotic atmosphere appears. Whether evading oncoming bullets from enemy planes above or dodging missiles of the opposing naval forces below, there is much to take in at once. Low guidance is provided from the initial tutorial, leaving the player on their own in defeating the foes.

Soon enough, it is clear that combat is the only option to salvage the plane. While the controls are limited, the quantity of outcomes is great. Smooth, circular turns lead into quick counter-offenses. Eliminating enemies is accomplished by firing upon them or by rushing them via head-on collisions. Releasing the boost button begins a free fall descent, a great technique to slow the game’s pace.

Evasive maneuvers through boosts — or the lack thereof — and sharp turns ease the player into the firefights. But, health and plane repairs play a greater role in success. Repairs are incrementally completed by pausing fire over time, a brilliant system to achieve a form of health regeneration without the use of the typical “hearts” or scavengable medical supplies. The design forces quick choices in this regard, based on if it is worth it to retreat and regenerate or counter-attack and hope for the best.

Obtaining customizations only aids the conflict of weighing costs. As the player progresses through the levels, new parts are unlocked. These parts occasionally have downsides, affecting speed or health in return, in which three parts can be interchanged at once. By stressing the characteristics of the plane, each designed plane has its own sense of individualism.

Underneath the drab, arcade cover of Luftrausers lies a perfected system of fast-paced, one-man army firefights. The disarray of the battlefield is not a drawback, rather fostering an atmosphere bent on forcing swift decisions out of the player and reactive flight measures.