Games for the weekend: Sky Gamblers: Storm Raiders

Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome. Here is one cool enough to keep you busy during this weekend.

Sky Gamblers Storm RaidersSky Gamblers: Storm Raiders ($4.99 Universal, $4.99 Mac) is a World War II aerial combat game that lets you pilot vintage fighter planes from the late 1930s and early 1940s.  With several different games play styles to choose from, and a rich online multiplayer world to become a part of, this game has depth.

On both the iOS and OS X(s AAPL) versions of the game, there are several different flight control configurations to choose from.  It starts out with minimal controls that allow you to drive the plane more like an automobile, and increases in complexity, giving you more control over the different aspects of a full-featured flight simulation experience.  On iOS devices you can choose the accelerometer to control your aircraft by tilting and turning your device.  For the OS X version of the game you can elect to use the keyboard, joystick or gamepad.

Sky Gamblers Storm Raiders

In general, when it comes to flying these vintage aircraft in an aerial combat situation, slower speeds are recommended for better maneuvering.  When you need to go fast, there is a booster that will overload your engine. Overload your engine for too long and you will stall. Releasing the controls will slowly stabilize the plane. There is even an autopilot mode that keeps the lane flying on course. To learn how to control your plane, there are a series of six tutorials that will teach you everything from the basic controls of flying in each of the different difficulty modes to how to take off and land and even how to issue commands as the leader of a squadron.

Sky Gamblers Storm Raiders

The hangar is stocked with seven plane types, two jets, a couple of bombers, and seven legendary aircraft, including my personal favorite, the Chance Vought F4U Corsair from the 1970s TV program Black Sheep Squadron.  The aircraft are true to the period, and when you get hot in aerial combat, you actually see bullet holes in the glass canopy of your cockpit.

Before you start each mission, each aircraft has three upgrade options to choose from.  The upgrades can increase the firepower, weapon types, speed and accuracy of the weapons.  As you play the game, more aircraft will be unlocked based on the success of your missions.  If you don’t want to wait, there is of course an in-app purchase that will unlock all of the planes and let you choose what you want to fly right from the start.  Also through an in-app purchase is the ability to paint your aircraft, allowing you to fly with a bit of personality.

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There are nine single-player modes to choose from. In the campaign mode you can choose from fighting the Battle of Britain or the Asia-Pacific War. There are six missions you must complete in each of the two campaigns. With each mission you can expect to be assigned the task of destroying an enemy target, escorting bombers on their mission, or protecting a land of sea-based strategic assets. Once you complete all of the missions, you can tackle an additional 13 dogfight missions and ultimately see how long you can last in survival mode. Also in single player, you can choose one of six different settings as you play capture the flag, defend the base and team death match.  The best part is that gameplay is not linear.  If you tire of the campaigns, you can elect to play quick game of capture the flag, or see how long you can hold out in a survival challenge.

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When you think you are ready and have earned your wings in single-player mode, you can enter into the online world of multiplayer gaming. You can elect to play locally over Wi-Fi, online against a global force of players, or by using Game Center to challenge your friends.  Most of the gameplay styles of the single-player mode are also available as game types when playing online multiplayer games.

Sky Gamblers Storm Raiders

The skill of the artificial pilots in single-player mode is sufficient enough to pose a real challenge and get you ready to take on your friends online.  The different styles of controlling your aircraft will appeal to novice and more experienced flight simulator aficionados alike.  As a novice flyer, once you master the game’s basic controls, you can change the configuration and learn to control your aircraft with more of a simulator experience.  With so many different game styles, missions, planes and scenery to choose from in both single- and multi-player modes, there is more than enough to keep you occupied defending the skies this weekend.