Luftrausers (PlayStation 3) Review

By Matteo Carlarino 18.10.2014

Review for Luftrausers on PlayStation 3

Vlambeer truly deserves a huge thumbs-up. In an era where gameplay stratification gets way too often mistaken for supposedly true-to-life, bloated, open-world experiences, this team went back to basics and almost reinvented a genre. In the guise of a witty, light-hearted parody of WWII German airborne forays, Luftrausers turns out to be one of the most addictive, fun and polished shoot 'em ups of 2014.

At its core, Luftrausers is an exceptionally streamlined shooter. In fact, it feels more like a modern take on the Asteroids classic formula, rather than a complex bullet-hell experimentation. Gameplay mechanics are immediately clear and it won't take more than a couple of minutes to play along with the game's rules. Tapping up on the D-pad at the title screen launches the player's aircraft - called Rauser - right into the battlefield, which is endless on the side, yet fatally delimited by the clouds on top and the ocean at the bottom. In between, it swarms with a multitude of enemy vehicles - planes, blimps, battleships, submarines… - whose only mission is to take down the Rauser, by attacking from all directions in progressively stronger waves.

The Rauser's very survival depends on two different devices: its main weapon and an auto-repair system, but they can only work one at a time. Considering that the gravity drags the airplane down to the sea, when the boost isn't activated, it becomes apparent pretty soon how critical it is to keep the right balance between attack and evasion, as well as a clean flying route, in order to stay alive in the first place, but also to gather big points with multiple hit combos.

Fleshing out a simple arcade framework with a number of clever and befitting extra features - this is where Luftrausers truly excels. As if its simple, single-button shooting style wasn't compelling enough, there comes a challenge-based progression system that gives the player more to chew and get busy with, other than going up in rank. Each new game comes with three different mission objectives: topping-up a high-score; taking down a specific number or class of enemy ships; surviving without firing for a certain amount of time… As these goals are cleared, the player's level raises and new parts become available in the Hangar, to equip and customise the Rauser with.

Screenshot for Luftrausers on PlayStation 3

A Rauser consists of three different parts - main weapon, body and engine - and each part carries its own advantages and disadvantages; while some of them impact quite severely on the overall performances - as an example, the armour makes the plane much heavier and slower - others can produce more subtle effects, especially noticeable once combined with each other. Even though most parts work pretty well together, it's not unlikely to assemble some proper flying disaster and paying the toll in action. Needless to say, the whole customisation phase requires a good eye for crafting, in order to come up with a solid match.

After unlocking all five components available for each part, the sheer amount of possible combinations really opens up for everyone's taste and attitude. Players can literally tailor their personal Rauser, favouring firepower over versatility, agility over sturdiness, according to their own play style. To the completionist's delight, extra parts also come with specific mission achievements, which become more and more demanding, as the pilot's rank ramps up in grade.

Where Luftrausers scores the biggest point, though, is in its flawlessly determined difficulty curve, ensuring a sense of progression that prevents the game from being daunting or aggravating, even if death itself is inevitable, at the end of the day. No matter how hard the enemy keeps pummelling the lone Rauser, there is always just another strategy to deploy, in order to last a bit more than in the previous attempt. Learning how to swap between raids and defensive manoeuvres comes natural with practice, reaching tremendous levels of engrossment and satisfaction.

Screenshot for Luftrausers on PlayStation 3

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Swift and challenging, Luftrausers highlights Vlambeer's virtuosity in rejuvenating a classic archetype with elegance and flair. Perfect for short runs, it's one of those games that keep the players glued to their controllers for that one last try before giving up. Sure, it has some minor flaws - as in some sporadically evil mission achievements, to name the more obvious - yet it packs a phenomenal ride, suited for both danmaku maniacs and the casual shooter.

Developer

Vlambeer

Publisher

Devolver Digital

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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