Sunday, August 12, 2012

Acheron Prime [InsurgentX Entertainment] - $5.99

Sci-fi adventure/aerial combat titles are a bit of a rarity in the AppStore. Galaxy on Fire, Dangerous, No Gravity, Warpgate and Star Battalion are basically it when it comes to the genre. Luckily, fans of the genre can rejoice once more, as InsurgentX Entertainment has added a new game into the mix; Acheron Prime, a sci-fi aerial combat RPG adventure title set in a dystopian future of Earth. Now, with the overall polish and larger studio that Fishlabs has (55 employees), it’s pretty clear that a game matching or out-shining Galaxy On Fire won’t happen any time soon, and I accepted that fact quite some time ago. So the real question is; Does Acheron Prime stand up as an aerial combat/sci-fi adventure title worthy of sinking hours and hours into? Well, hopefully you’ll be able to decide after reading this review. 

Acheron Prime starts off in a rather beautiful and seemingly peaceful section of space in the year 2500. Of course, that silence ends very quickly, and you find yourself under attack. Here is where you’re introduced to Kirika, your main character, and LISA (Logistics Interface Strategic Analyzer), the AI construct within her brain, and a short gameplay tutorial. You’re given a joystick for movement, 3 buttons for ship control, and an accelerate/decelerate button. In the middle of the screen you’ll find your shield, hull health and speed + energy meters. You’re also able to rotate your ship by dragging your finger across the center of the screen. 

After destroying the smaller fighters, a Mothership arrives, and you hyperdrive your way outta there. After a cut-scene, you’re taken to a major docking ship. Here, you get a little plot information, and learn the basics for maneuvering around within these areas. Seems you’re an Imperial Officer, yet the Mothership that came after you had Imperial Insignia on it. Looks like you’ve got a lot to figure out. But that’ll come later. You’re taken to the hanger to purchase a ship, and outfit it with a gun and radar. After unsuccessfully trying to get further away from the area, you start the main gaming session. Doing seemingly random small tasks to help get you where you need to go, find who you need to find, and learn what you need to learn. 

 The game is set up a lot like Galaxy on Fire, following the same basic outline. However, as you progress throughout the game, you’ll find out that Acheron Prime is more focused on the RPG elements and combat sessions rather than mining and trading. Traveling does seem to take a little longer, but there is a Fast Forward button that appears on screen for these sections, which really does help it not drag on. Another anti-GoF aspect is the world of Acheron Prime. Instead of spanning across an entire galaxy, Acheron Prime is limited to the Solar-System. This does help in regard to remembering areas, and knowing whereabouts you’ll be going when heading on missions. 

Graphically, Acheron Prime doesn’t have all the flash and glamour that GoF contains, but it’s still very well designed. The space environments are beautiful, the ship designs are very well thought out, and every other object is wonderfully crafted. Animations are also very well done, with the explosions looking especially nice. Combined with some very energetic music, but not digging all the way into the techno genre, the effects and BGM do help add to the immersion of the game. The voice acting, like most iOS specific games, is a little cheesy, but I found it to be on the same level, if not better, than Galaxy on Fire’s voice acting, which is pretty impressive. 

Also fairly impressive is the amount of content in the game. Apparently, the campaign is a full 40-50 OR MORE hours long. Combined with the outstanding gameplay, and really nice equip system, Acheron Prime really feels like a full blown major console game that’s been ported over to the iOS. If the voice acting was a little better, it could easily pass as a PS2 or XBOX title. The difficulty level is also something that separates it from other titles within the genre, as it will definitely give gamers a challenge. 

Again, there won’t ever be another Galaxy on Fire, but it’s incredibly surprising that a 4 man team made a real contender for one of the best sci-fi adventure/aerial combat titles on the iOS. Being Universal and priced at $5.99, fans of the genre will not regret picking this up. Hopefully we’ll be able to see some add-ons like GoF, as I have the feeling I’m definitely going to want more after I complete the game. GameCenter is also supported, with 10 achievements that add some exploration aspects to the game. I did encounter one little issue; when I received a notification on my iPad 2 while playing, the sound cut out, and would not come back. Even after another loading screen. To get the sound and music back, I had to exit the game, and clear it from my multitasking bar, then restart it. Aside from that, I haven’t come across any issues. InsurgentX has definitely provided iOS gamers with a solid, console quality Space Adventure. It’s one that should not be missed, especially if you felt Galaxy on Fire lacked some RPG elements and needed more combat. 


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