Pocket Jets (AR) ($2.99) by DigitalDouble is an augmented reality (AR) app where you maneuver futuristic jets in dog fights from distant planets and even your own bedroom. It utilizes the gyroscope, touch screen controls, video filters, 3D graphics, and sound.
In the time since that memorable iPhone 4 on-stage demonstration by Steve Jobs, developers everywhere have scrambled to create apps that utilize the gyroscope in a more creative way than a mere Jenga game. Several apps, including AR Missile and Laser Tag, have truly succeeded in terms of both innovation and execution. Pocket Jets is a new player in the AR gaming field, and it just might surprise some people.
Each battle has a specific chosen length. You align the view with the horizon, tap the screen and watch as your craft takes flight in front of you. To control it, simply tap the left or right side to bank in that direction. As with other true AR apps, you have to attempt to follow both your own jet and the enemies by physically moving the device around you (hint: playing in open spaces is a good idea). If your jet gets too far away from you, you can simply hold the home button until it returns.
The controls aren’t entirely intuitive, but with a little concerted effort, it becomes nearly effortless to guide the jet toward and away from the enemy. Shooting the enemy is simplified by the use of heat seeking missiles that allow you to simply fire in the enemy's general direction. Dodging unfriendly fire is also made more possible by an "evade" button that lights up if the enemy is locked on.
Many AR games pigeonhole the user by only enabling game play with the camera via overlay. While this is where Pocket Jets shines the brightest, it also provides four different beautifully rendered worlds just in case your current surroundings aren’t exciting enough. Also provided are filters, such as night vision, that makes the experience even more immersive.
Even with all that Pocket Jets has to offer, there are a few areas where it falls short. Currently, there are only two jets to choose from. There isn’t a story mode or campaign or any method where you can gain points and improve upon your craft and there also aren’t stats to track how many wins or losses you are accumulating.
Fortunately, DigitalDouble seems determined to constantly improve upon the product and has already rolled out a substantial update. Additionally, version 1.2 is coming soon and promises the following enhancements:
• Optional dynamic joystick control scheme (touch-anywhere style)
• Altitude control
• Short-range automatic mini-guns installed on Gyro-Jets
• Defensive & offensive AI in combat is more tactical/aggressive
• Big improvement in performance when using AR video (higher-quality video will be the default setting)
• Enhanced barrel-rolls (changed movement from single-axis, to corkscrew)
• Enemy Gyro-Jets have been taught more effective evasive moves, and also use barrel-roll
• Screenshot saving & sharing features: to library, with friends (via email), to an online gallery
Pocket Jets is an exciting new player in the augmented reality genre. It creates an immersive experience by turning your backyard into a battlefield and offers a growing number of welcomed features. If you are serious about iOS gaming or are interested in AR apps, Pocket Jets is a "Should Buy."