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Luftrausers – PS Vita

Luftrausers – PS Vita

LUFTRAUSERS-Key-Art-LargePlatform:  PS Vita

Publisher:  Devolver Digital

Developer:  Vlambeer

Genre:  Shoot ’em Up

Release Date:  March 18th, 2014

Nerd Rating:  8 out of 10

Reviewed by Saint Exquisite

I want to start off by saying that I had a great time playing Luftrausers! This game is one of the latest offerings from developer Vlambeer. While Vlambeer isn’t exactly a triple A developer they are nonetheless making waves in the video game world. And honestly, Luftrausers held my attention and entertained me much longer than most of the triple A games that have come out in the last few years. Playing this game really hearkens back to the days of arcade shooters such as Asteroids and Galaga with it’s minimal approach to graphics and addictive game mechanics.download

Luftrausers comes out of the gate strong with mechanics that are interesting and well executed. There are times, however, that they slip up a little. When playing you may find yourself occasionally feeling robbed, score-wise,  of what you thought was a great round. There were several rounds that I thought I had really torn it up and found that I only made a few kills. This is frustrating in a game that is mostly about racking up the highest score you can get. But, for the most part, the game functions superbly. You control a small aircraft with unlimited ammo and a jet engine. You control the plane by pointing the nose in a direction and jamming the thruster, which is cleverly mapped to several buttons allowing you to tailor your play style. In fact, most functions in the game are mapped to multiple buttons and this is something that I found quite appealing. For example, all of the face buttons cause the plane to fire its weapon while both trigger buttons and the up button on the directional pad apply propulsion. (Movement can also be entirely controlled by the joystick.)download (2)

Luftrausers mechanics are big part of what makes this game so addictive. Rarely have I found myself shouting the word “clutch” at the top of my lungs as often as I did while playing Luftrausers Mapping the thruster to a specific button engenders a feeling of mastery in play. It always feels like you’re managing a complicated vehicle while remaining simple enough to never become frustrating. Alongside tight gameplay is a solid, if not very deep, leveling system. Your points cause you to level up while completing challenges allows you to unlock new parts for your jet. This upgrade system kept me bolted to my Vita for a long time trying to complete the various and sundry tasks handed to me, which sometimes proved to be far more difficult than expected. For example, killing thirty enemies while constantly shooting was exceedingly difficult because you can’t heal while your guns are active. And that’s one of the easier missions! Expect many more and increasingly difficult challenges! Don’t be too scared though; you will probably beat most of them without actively trying, which is a good thing because Luftrausers isn’t necessarily about completing these objectives. Vlambeer does a great job of balancing the score counter against completing tasks. So it always feels like you’re having fun and not just locking yourself in a proverbial Skinner Box to get to the next eventual upgrade. The fun is in the play which is something that I feel is lacking in a lot of triple A games.download (1)

Luftrausers is a game that doesn’t get hung up on lore or bloated with story. In fact, there is none at all, and I am okay with that. This is a video game that truly deserves the moniker. It is a game that you are meant to play and have fun playing. But there is one thing that I can’t shake. I wouldn’t call myself a history buff by any means but I do have a deep love for it and I make a point to learn as much as I can about it, because everything that has happened in our existence should inform us about what to do next. That being said, I have a real problem with Nazi imagery in this game. I don’t appreciate it when Nicki Minaj uses it and I don’t appreciate it when my games use it. You may be thinking, “but what about franchises like Wolfenstein or Call of Duty or Brothers in Arms? (You must play the Brothers in Arms franchise.) Those are all such good games and they all have Nazis in them!” And I understand why you would be thinking that because so many great games have involved absolutely decimating the Nazi war machine! And that’s great! I’m all for that! But all of those games treat the source material with at least a modicum of respect, arguably, some more than others. Wolfenstein: The New Order is a cautionary tale of unchecked fascism, kind of, and the Brothers in Arms franchise is a relatively historically accurate depiction of the life of a G.I. in WWII. Those ideas are great and they use narrative to keep this tragedy from leaving our minds in hopes that we never repeat it. Films like Schindler’s List and The Pianist serve the same purpose but when we resort to using the Nazi image as an aesthetic because we think it looks cool then I think we’re crossing into murky waters. I wouldn’t be saying all of this if the aping of Nazi style in Luftrausers wasn’t so obvious or if it was backed by any story. It feels like a shameless attempt to be edgy and fringe and I can’t award any nerd points for that. In short, marketing beat out substance. As a community of gamers, we are above that. At least we should be.

In conclusion, I still have a lot of good things to say about Luftrausers. Honestly, if it wasn’t as fun as it is I couldn’t let the Nazi thing slide. But in a world were truly good games are not as common as I would like them to be, I must concede. Luftrausers is super fun and Vlambeer has really shown that they know how to make an addictive arcade style shooter. So as much as I would like for them to have chosen another aesthetic I have to give this game an 8 out of 10 which is a definite recommendation from this nerd.

Written by Nerd Bacon

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2 Comments

  1. This game looks right up my alley!!

     

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