Follow the squiggly red line to the death bomb that’ll clear an area of enemies and allow you to regroup.
Decades ago, in the United Skates of America roller rink in Rumford, Rhode Island, I was introduced to the joys of dual-stick shooter arcade games. Here, my lone robot warrior faced off against thousands of less-friendly robots, the only tactic being to dodge, refocus your fire in the direction needed and pray that the next available power-up would boost your weaponry or atomize the opponents on your screen entirely.
This tradition lives on in Infinity Field, a new dual-stick space shooter developed by ForzeField Studios and published by Chillingo. While the plot is the simplest one available — destroy everything before it destroys you — the title finds several new approaches that help make a classic theme new again.
Never doubt the usefulness of a “Bouncing Bullets” upgrade.
Beyond beautiful graphics, a consistent frame rate no matter how much is happening onscreen, and killer sound, Infinity Field adds multiple game modes to an already-established idea. To supplement the classic “kill the unending hordes” dual-stick shooter motif, the game adds the following play styles into single-player mode and mixes them into campaign play to keep things interesting:
>> Unarmed: Without weapons, your character must reach one bomb after another to clear enemies from the screen and have space to move around.
>> Snake: Take on a gigantic boss snake, the head being the only weak spot.
>> Insane: Remember the unending hordes that were mentioned before? Now they’re that much more numerous. And faster.
>> Zombie: The unending hordes keep on coming but can’t be killed, only frozen via your gunfire and used as impediments to slow down additional oncoming enemies.
>> Cruces: The unending hordes don’t actively intend to kill you in this mode, but you’re standing right in the middle of an area they’re all trying to cross and they’re more than happy to plow into you unless you shoot them first.
Have giant red space laser of death, will travel…
At present, online multiplayer gameplay in Infinity Field is still in development, though the game offers a nifty simultaneous two-player option in which each player can take an end of the iPad and control their character, the two ships fighting the alien hordes for as long as they can. While online multiplayer will be a welcome addition, what’s here is still a fun way to kill 10 minutes with a friend.
While Infinity Field takes some very heavy cues from classics such as Geometry Wars and Smash TV, the mix of gameplay modes keeps things fresh. Where one level might have you blasting away wave after wave of enemies in the most classic sense, the game will happily throw an Unarmed level your way in which you’ll have to run from bomb to bomb to attempt to clear some space and survive. Or maybe the next level has you fighting an inordinately large boss. This mix-it-up gameplay as well as some killer upgrades (including rapid fire, force fields, bombs, bouncing bullets, and helper ships) really keeps things interesting, even if some levels are so difficult that they might require over a dozen attempts before things go your way and you finally pass.
Sometimes it’s best to fight from a corner.
If there’s anything that could be requested of Infinity Field, it might be this: add a difficulty adjuster. While old-school dual-stick shooter fans will love the title, the challenge might frustrate younger or more casual players. This, combined with a quick check into the sound (which occasionally dropped the first few seconds of audio as a level began) would make the game just about perfect.
The bottom line. A few audio hiccups aside, the cool cats at ForzeField Studios have their act together, and Infinity Field is about the best $1.99 an old-school arcade fan will spend on the iTunes Store this spring, the app running just about flawlessly with only one minor freeze in hours of testing.
iPad running iOS 3.2 or later
Terrific graphics and sound. Great reworking of the classic dual-stick shooter theme. Good app stability and multiple play modes keep things fun.
Small audio issues at the start of some levels. Challenge level is perfect for hardcore gamers but might turn off casual or younger players.