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Who's That Flying?! (PC) artwork

Who's That Flying?! (PC) review

"The story begins with you – Guardian of Earth – standing trial at the Galactic Council of Space Justice for allowing the planet to be invaded. It isn't particularly deep - it doesn't need to be - but the trial scenes that intersperse the levels are well-made and humorous."

Who's That Flying?! (or WTF?!) is a scrolling shoot 'em up that tasks you with saving the Earth from a horde of invading space ravagers. The story begins with you – Guardian of Earth – standing trial at the Galactic Council of Space Justice for allowing the planet to be invaded. It isn't particularly deep - it doesn't need to be - but the trial scenes that intersperse the levels are well-made and humorous. Earth’s back-and-forth banter with members of the jury is juvenile but endearing; after all, who doesn’t love a good Uranus joke? The faux-language voice acting also adds a lot to these exchanges.

The action plays out from Earth’s recollection of the invasion as he gives evidence at the trial, and at first glance it seems like a standard fare shooter. However, concepts from tower defence games (such as Plants vs. Zombies) are borrowed to good effect. As an all-powerful guardian you’re impervious to damage and can’t ‘die’ in the traditional sense. Instead you have to prevent the ravagers from invading; if more than fifty get past you, the city will fall and you’ll fail the level. The first levels pose few problems, but the ravagers gradually become quicker and start to move in more complex patterns. By the time you get to the second city, you’ll have to contend with other monsters that spew speed-sapping goo and ram head-first into you.

Some of these enemies are dispatched by holding ctrl and mashing the space key, which slows down time and destroys other surrounding monsters. Timing these flashy kills right can really take the pressure off and add handsomely to your score (which helps if you’re chasing gold medals, achievements and looking to climb the leaderboards).

You’ll notice immediately that WTF?! has a distinct look (similar to previous Mediatonic outing Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess), full of cel-shading and a colour palette that is heavy with the black and purple, not to mention remarkably smooth and silky animation. Earth looks every bit the hero he claims to be as he twists and twirls through the cityscapes, which is particularly impressive during boss fights. The camera zooms out generously and gives you a great sense of scale, Earth looking like a speck of dust compared to the boss beasts which can take up half the screen. Unfortunately, these David vs. Goliath tussles look better than they play and there isn’t much variation in terms of attack patterns. And if you do fall at the final hurdle, you’ll have to play through from the beginning of the level which is a bit of a downer.

The story mode consists of four cities (New York, Tokyo, Mexico City and Moscow) with three stages and you can breeze through them in an hour or so if you’re good. But the main appeal is the alternate game modes. Infinity mode pits you against a perpetual swarm of ravagers and tasks you with holding on for as long as possible, presenting a far greater challenge than anything in the story. Likewise, challenge mode presents a series of bite-sized scenarios that add plenty of variety. Whizzing around in double-time in the turbo mode challenges is great fun, but the “let none pass” ones are likely to have you tearing your hair out.

For a genre that is becoming oversaturated on downloadable and mobile platforms, Who’s That Flying?! makes a good impression. There aren’t a lot of shoot ‘em up games that have genuine charm or are so well animated, and although the story mode is short and the mechanics are simple, it’s good value for its Ł5.99 price tag. Online leaderboards are a nice addition (something that is missing from the PSP version), as is Steam Cloud support for anyone who plays across multiple systems. And on a final note, unless you’re very good with a keyboard, a game pad will greatly improve the playing experience.

PAJ89's avatar
Community review by PAJ89 (March 01, 2011)

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honestgamer posted March 01, 2011:

This was a good review that leaves me wanting to play the game. I'm not sure (still) that I get how fully the tower defense elements are implemented (are they a separate process for a stage or two, or are they part of every level?) but it's clear that the game is something interesting and probably worth the price tag. Given that it's only an hour long, I wouldn't have minded a bit more discussion about the "after you've beaten it once" value, but still... very good and quite polished writing. I hope to see you more active on the site again.
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CoarseDragon posted March 02, 2011:

So let me get this are on trial for failing to protect Earth but if you succeed in the game which is the recollection of your effort why are you on trial?

Good review. You made the game sound really fun to play.
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Halon posted March 02, 2011:

Good review, I was actually interested in this title. It looks like the type of game that is either really good or really bad, and with the mostly positive feedback I've seen so far it's probably worth the $5 or whatever it goes for.
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PAJ89 posted March 03, 2011:

Thank you Jason, I hope I get a bit more time to put some new reviews together. Certainly have a large pool of games to choose from. I like the site redesign by the way, the front page especially looks very slick.

CoarseDragon: now you ask, I could have explained the story far better. Earth stopped the planet from being destroyed, but he is on trial for allowing them to even reach the planet. He's portrayed as flamboyant and a showboater, and the trial is more to establish whether or not he is fit and responsible enough to be a guardian. The four city stages that I mentioned are his recollection of the invasion, and without saying too much, the story ties itself up properly after that.

sportsman: I was browsing on Steam and the screenshots caught my eye. The video looked good so I took a punt on it, and I'd say it paid off.

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