Review: Galactic Run
Galactic Run sounds really good when you read the colour text... "[it] will take you to depths of space, surrounded by enemies, how long will you last?" While Rebel Box's arcade shooter looks the part, once you start playing you're going to realise that the colour text is as good as it is going to get.
Version Reviewed: 188.8.131.52
Galactic Run is set up as a traditional arcade shooting game, which has you piloting a spaceship and fighting against waves of enemy ships firing on you, forcing you to avoid the bullets while shooting them down and collecting power-ups. The twist is in the viewing angle. While the top down approach lends itself very well to this design of game, Galactic Run takes the vertical shooter game design and switches it to a 3D viewpoint set behind and above your spaceship.
This lends itself to some stunning graphics and animations, but they are just for show. You still only have 'left' and 'right' as control options for your spaceship, and the traditional 'speed boost' and 'super weapon' that you can trigger from the edges of the screen. Regular ammo is available to fire by pressing anywhere else on the screen.
With coloured vapour trails coming from the wings of the enemy, and the use of depth to show them crashing and burning while being out of active plane of action in the game-play, Galactic Run does a lot to give the player something exciting to look at. There's also some great music and sound effects as well, while lending an epic feel to the monster sized spaceships that attack you.
Developer Rebel Box are also making use of their own online cloud service. By logging into this you can have it remember your high score, rankings, and bonuses if you ever have to re-install the game or play it on another handset. It's not the greatest solution, but until Windows Phone comes up with a native solution, developers will have to make their own cloud save solutions.
With cloud support, great sound, and impressive graphics, it's a shame that Galactic Run is not that great a game. There's no real way to maintain your health, firepower, or turbo thrust - all the indicators will continue to drop through the game, but power-ups to boost them back up and extend the gameplay time are few and far between. When they do appear on the screen, flying to them in time to pick them up is not an easy task, and invariably you'll be flying through a hail of bullets trying to reach the booster. The 'clock' in-game is very severe.
It's not helped by the sluggish nature of Galactic Run. While there are lots of graphics on the screen, a significant amount of swooping spaceships, bullets, and power-ups, proving that the Windows Phone platform can handle fast-moving graphics and animations in this game, your spaceship in Galactic Run is not a nimble little number.
You are going to need to steer long in advance to get your pick-ups, you will need to be predictive and trust your shields to avoid as much of the ammunition put out by the enemy as possible, and if an enemy ship does decide to kamikaze you with a head-on attack, there's very little you can do to avoid the collision.
To have a really good space shooter, you need to have all the elements working together, and working well. There are some genres where you can skimp a little in one area and it won't materially affect the resulting game. The arcade shooter is not one of those genres. For all of the winning graphics, design, and approach, the handling of all three of the spaceships on offer to you leaves a lot to be desired.
There is no trial mode available for Galactic Run, so the first time you experience the handling and the game will be after you have purchased it. Without a trial version, I suspect that many people who buy and download the game on the strength of the screenshots and the colour text in the app store listing are going to be disappointed when they start to play.
It's probably best to skip Galactic Run, and look for more fun with a game that has a trial version so you can experience it for yourself before making the purchase decision.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at