Reviewed by Eric Pankoke
Burning Armor Code E
Winner of the Cutting Edge Coding Competition 2006
Given the right angle, there’s always room for another vertical shooter in my collection. Unfortunately, even after being rewritten using the EDGE gaming library, I’m not sure that Burning Armor has enough of an edge to rise to the top. Read on to find out of this is one flight worth taking, or if you should just let Burning Armor crash and burn…
Burning Armor appears to be your typical vertical scrolling shooter. You wade headlong into the enemy hoping to destroy them before they get to you. Some ships come at you in formations like 1942, while others just fly in and hang out until either they’ve destroyed you or you’ve taken care of them. Destroying smaller ships yield low value coins, while bigger ships produce high value coins or more importantly, power-ups. Power-ups range from increased firepower to full ship repair, so you want to be sure that you never miss a power-up if at all possible. You should keep in mind that power-ups are ship specific, so if you fail to destroy a particular big ship, don’t expect to find its power-up in the next big ship that comes along.
As with most shooters, you have a basic weapon that can be upgraded; in this case it happens to start out as a machine gun. In addition to that you have a hyper beam, which has unlimited use but must be charged in order to use it. To initiate the charging process you press the center of the D-Pad. Once the weapon is charged, your ship will slow down, indicating that it’s ready. Pressing the D-Pad again fires the weapon, which spends a few seconds destroying everything on screen. Once the beam is exhausted it goes through a preliminary recharge, which is separate from the charge that you initiate with the D-Pad. Finally you have the evade button, which just like in 1942 causes your plane to fly around in a loop, temporarily avoiding all bullets and ships on the screen. Once you’ve performed an evade, you need to wait for the evade meter to charge up before you can use that feature again.
Burning Armor has two modes: Normal and Turbo. Even when playing normal, I found this game overly difficult. So far I have not been able to beat the first level, and to be honest, as time passed I lost my desire to keep trying. The level design is not very interesting, the enemies aren’t all that original in how they attack, and it gets rather frustrating getting all the way to the end almost every time just to get trounced by the boss and have to start over. It would have been real nice to have an introductory level or something, so that mediocre players like myself could feel at least somewhat accomplished.
You have the choice of using the stylus or D-Pad to move your ship around the screen. Unfortunately, you don’t have the ability to map the rest of the hardware buttons yourself. This is a shame, because I would really have liked to use something besides the center of the D-Pad for the hyper beam. This certainly isn’t a major issue, but I don’t understand why most games don’t allow the remapping of controls any more, especially those of the action genre.
While not quite up to the level of Skyforce Reloaded or Claygun, the graphics in Burning Armor are still really good. It’s nice to see a traditional shooter that doesn’t use traditional ship designs. Sure, many of the aircraft have recognizable influences, but they still look original compared to what you see in most vertical shooters these days. I also liked how they effectively used multiple layers to provide a feeling of depth, as aircraft on the lower level appeared smaller. I realize this is not a new technique, but it’s a slick one that is quite often neglected in this sort of game. My chief complaint as far as the graphics are concerned is that it was often difficult to see the ammunition that was being hurled at you, which seems to be quite common in this sort of game, especially on devices with smaller screens. Fortunately, there is a low graphics detail setting which hides the clouds, a main contributor to the lack of visibility on the ammunition.
The music in Burning Armor is well done. Sadly I can’t speak for whether or not the game has multiple tracks, since I have as yet to beat the first level, but if they’re as good as the one on the first level I’d say Burning Armor has a great soundtrack. On the other hand, the sound effects are basically limited to the firing of your main weapon and explosions. My suggestion is to leave the music on and turn off the sound effects. You won’t be missing anything.
It’s a vertical shooter
Good graphics, especially in the ship design
Soundtrack for first level is good
Too difficult for my tastes
Lackluster level design
Can’t remap controls
Burning Armor is not necessarily a bad game. Other than decent ship design, however, there’s nothing here that sets Burning Armor apart from the rest. Add to that the insane difficulty level, and I would have to suggest booking a flight on Claygun or Skyforce Reloaded first.