Luftrausers is a peculiar game because it brings back a genre that hasn't been seen so much since the early '90s. That being said, Luftrausers does include some innovative features that make it very unique to other 2D style shooters out there.
At its core, Luftrausers appears to look like any other 2D airplane shooter. You pilot an airplane shooting down every other enemy vehicle you can see while you try to survive. The main different thing about Luftrausers is the way it looks and plays as its level progression system is unique as is the way it plays.
Normally in 2D style shooters, you can only move from left to right or scrolling upwards. You rarely can backtrack in old school 2D shooters because your goal is to reach the end to face a boss of some kind. Luftrausers plays differently because you have full control of your airplane as you can fly around anywhere you want. Not to mention you actually have to get a high score and complete certain objectives if you want to reach the next level too. It's not just scrolling to the end of a level like you do in most other 2D shooters out there.
Luftrausers' main challenging aspect is actually trying to keep you airplane afloat at all times. Unlike other 2D plane shooters, your plane doesn't keep itself afloat automatically. In Luftrausers, you are forced to press the up directional button at all times to keep your plane up in the sky. Failure to do so will make your airplane crash into the sea. It's pretty tough considering you have to keep rotating the left stick to turn while at the same time, still keep pressing up so you don't crash. It took me ages to get used to the controls as I kept crashing to the sea all of the time at the beginning.
To keep the pressure up, dozens of planes are always flying around shooting at you while battleships are on the sea shooting at you as well. Killing the battleships becomes a mission in itself because you have to fly low to shoot them. I never effectively killed them because I ended up dying in the sea again...
The game allows you to customize your airplane in terms of getting more armor, speed or better weapons. The weapons improve dramatically the further you progress, although it's still a pretty hard game to even with all the upgrades you obtain. As I mentioned before, this game is relentless as the enemies grow in number and flying your airplane to avoid them all is hard in itself to do.
Graphically, Luftrausers is an simple as it can get. Beige, white and brown are the only three colours that are present in this game. The graphics look very unique as they resemble old school games from the Atari 2600. The look of the game may look simple, but it's price in New Zealand is a bit hefty. The fact that a simple arcade shooter like this costs $16.95 on the PSN is somewhat of a hard pill to swallow.
All in all, Luftrausers is an addictive game that challenges you every step of the way. It's also a pretty long game because there are around 100 levels for you to unlock as well. The only disappointing thing about the game is its overly simplistic graphics and inflated price on the PSN.
Score: 7 out of 10