Spoiler alert! Chillingo’s Air Mail is a great combination of flight simulator and arcade game. While it fails to compete with the best in either category, it’s a great compromise that doesn’t require an enormous learning curve. Four stars.
Air Mail ups the ante on the cargo-delivery genre by adding flight simulator features that feel surprisingly realistic. Apple doesn’t always choose its games of the week well, which could be why they’ve rebranded their selections as “Editor’s choices.” This pick was right on the mark.
At it’s simplest, the object of Air Mail is to pick up cargo and deliver it to different drop-offs. Of course, the cargo gets harder to collect and the drop-off points more difficult to reach as you progress through the game. The cargo varies from packages to water to extinguish and you encounter more resistance, including spiked airships.
Players have a number of training options, from basic missions to time trials and free exploration. They can also choose between tilt and touchscreen controls, or try for real challenges with the somewhat buggy advanced controls.
You can also choose time trials and races through air loops, or free exploration finding secret locations behind rocks and beneath waterfalls. The challenge is not to crash after you find a target. You can also unlock all levels and additional tools for another dollar.
Although the game doesn’t allow you to fly the distances you can fly with top flight simulators, the experience is the best I’ve had since I first flew the X-Plane simulator on the iPad 1. The controls are far easier to handle, allowing you to switch between tilt controls, touch screen or advanced multi-gestures.
On the other hand, the advanced controls need to go back to the developers for retuning. Far too often the attempt to control pitch ended up speeding up the plane or banking it disastrously. I tried several times to get any feel for the controls, but finally gave up and went back to the simpler options.
Missions can even take you into war zones where you have to put out fires without being brought down yourself.
I would like to see more levels and hopefully more can be unlocked with in app purchases with time. As it is, players can explore freely, launch seven levels or two-to-four missions or take on specific skill challenges. It took less than half an hour to pick up the controls and start to fly with confidence. Kids raised with joysticks glued to their fingers should master the game much more quickly.
Jenny Manytoes rates Air Mail
Jenny Manytoes would purr next to Air Mail. It’s a great cross between flight simulators and skill gaming and with a few more levels and some retooling it will be first rate.
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