I want to start this review off by paraphrasing SOOMLA’s VP Marketing, Gur Dotan, who recently said, if you can’t afford high-end graphics, you should focus on gameplay and nostalgic call-backs through 8-bit visuals and stuff like that.
Spartonix seems to be that kind of a development team. Having only three games at the Google Play Store, they seem to be relatively new to the industry, but the games they create, and this one – Fireliner: Wild Space Battle in particular – are a joy to watch and a joy to play.
However, just as practically any and every game out there – it has its flaws.
Fireliner is an arcade shoot-em-up game built for the Android operating system. It’s set in outer space and features you, sitting in a space fighter jet, firing missiles at other space fighter jets.
First thing you’ll notice when you run the game is that its graphics are beautiful. The main menu features a combination of “spacey” dark-blue, light-blue and yellow colours, and features a Daft Punk-esque soundtrack to compliment the environment of the Great Dark.
Pressing the Play button first sends you to the shop, where you can buy and upgrade specific ship parts. These parts are built in 3D, in great detail, and rotate slowly to give you a more up close and personal look. Every part has its features, like top speed, acceleration, health for the ship, damage and attack speed for weapons, etc.
This gives the game high replay value, which is among the biggest challenges and one of the most important factors any game needs.
However, after the initial delight, playing the game itself gave me a profound feeling of ‘meh.’ The ship fires by itself, and all you need to do is move it around, making sure you don’t get hit. It kills off any challenge the game could have brought. I’m guessing the developers decided for this approach to make it easier to play the game with one hand, probably so that it can be played while riding a bus or something like that, but there have been better solutions, like using the phone’s gyro for movement, and the finger for firing.
This way, the levels are simply too easy to pass. There is one interesting detail I spotted, which I’ve never seen before. The level spawns various power-ups, like a shield, faster weapons, etc. If you don’t pick them up, the enemies will, thus making them stronger and harder to defeat. This is the first time I’ve seen a CPU controlled enemy, in a game like this, do this and it really opened up the game quite nicely.
For those who are not interested in the overall competitiveness of a game and are just looking for something to kill the time, Fireliner will do just fine. It has a huge shop with many upgrade features, some of which are locked on your experience level. The more you play and the higher experience level you achieve, more upgrades for your ship will be unlocked. This is a great way to keep players interested and honestly, one of the rare examples how experience gained in the game can be used in a proper way.
The road to monetisation
I also like how the game handles monetisation. It earns its keep in different ways, either by ads, or through the purchase of the in-game currency needed for the ship’s upgrades. The currency can be obtained by real money, by liking the developers’ Facebook page, or by watching a video ad. The last one, rewarded video ads, seems to be increasingly popular and apparently very successful.
All things considered, Fireliner: Wild Space Battle is a good game. If you’re a diehard competitive gamer, always looking to compare your success to the success of others, then you will find little joy in this game. However, if you’re more of a casual gamer just looking for some space destruction fun, this game will have you hooked for hours. It’s easy to learn, very comprehensive and rewards you for staying with it. It looks and feels nice, its visuals are stunning and the shop is extensive.
Featuring more than a hundred levels, it will take some time to complete and with various customisation options, you can create a battleship which fits your play style.