Overview

You get to relive the classic scenes from Star Wars aboard the Millennium Falcon in the gunner chair. Blast away Tie-Fighters and Bombers as you escape the Death Star, go to the Asteroid Field, and make the Kessel Run. That’s not the best part though, as you get to take this game, and play in your actual surroundings with the augmented reality mode.

*Note that augmented reality requires iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, or iPod Touch 4. There is a non AR mode for older gen devices.

Features

There are over 20 levels across three episodes with each level giving you three waves of enemies. The augmented reality mode uses the gyroscope to control your aim, and there is the classic 1984 arcade game with movie backdrops as an alternate mode. As you progress you earn credits to upgrade the ship, or you can buy the abilities with in-app purchases.

The Good

The Star Wars universe collides with your universe, and the best use of augmented reality gaming to date. Battle Tie-fighters in your bedroom, your front yard, or anywhere you go. Augmented reality mode also includes gyroscope controls for the latest gen devices which is just silky smooth.

It’s best to play this game in a swivel chair to easily rotate 360 degrees as the enemies come at you from all directions. In a swivel chair it feels like sitting in the gunner chair just like Luke in the movie. You can also play standing up outside, but any way you play this is essential for a first person shooter.

Most augmented reality games give you very poor visuals on top of your camera footage, but the enemy ships and explosions are all nicely designed in Falcon Gunner. You can also play the non AR mode which actually puts you in the scenes of the movie with the Death Star or Star Destroyer in the background. The non AR mode lacks gyroscope control though.

Playing through all the levels will take a considerable amount of time with three waves per level. Also the enemies change for each new level to keep the variability up, and you get to upgrade the ship’s abilities. Game Center is also included for online high scores and achievements to add a little extra inventive.

The Bad

The game is far from perfect with the biggest problem being the aiming mechanic. I don’t know exactly what is at fault, but I know that when firing upon enemies that are right in your crosshairs most shots miss. Either the game isn’t recognizing your actions properly or the aiming crosshairs aren’t where you line up the tie-fighter at.

Now you need to adjust when the tie-fighters are flying horizontally trying to dodge your attacks, but even when they’re coming right at you, the shots miss. There should be no wind effects in space, and you can tell when a shot hits an enemy as they glow red. Your shots just fly right on past most of the time, especially in later stages, so overall the aiming mechanic hampers the gameplay experience.

When not in AR mode the game gives you movie backdrops, but for some reason it changes the control scheme as well. It doesn’t use, or even have the option for gyroscope controls which are so great for a shooter. Instead you’re given a tilting mechanic that isn’t even that good as you have to tilt the device at 45 degree angles to move the view horizontally, and it’s just not natural.

You would think the game would use the same tilt based aiming controls as all the shooters before the gyroscope was included in the recent gen hardware. Playing outside of AR mode is a hassle because the controls are just simply bad. It’s fun to play in the real scenes, but not with these controls.

You don’t have to buy the IAP to enjoy the game, but it just makes the game feel like it is nickel and dimeing you. The game is already $4.99, and then there are more things to spend your money on in the game? It’s just not the best pricing model they could have used.

The Verdict

Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner is the best augmented reality game to date as such well known items are included in your world. There is a lot to do in the game, and it’s plenty of fun with gyroscope controls for the first person shooter. The non AR mode though has terrible controls, and the aiming mechanic as a whole doesn’t work like it should.

Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner is worth considering for $4.99 depending on how much of a Star Wars fan you are to look past some substantial problems. Most augmented reality games feel like a gimmick where they build a game around AR where this is a full featured game that just happens to use AR.