Altitude Gets High Marks
I bought Altitude during the Steam Holiday sale for $7.49 and I feel like a thief.
Altitude is a competitive multiplayer game built around the progression system popularized by Call of Duty 4 on a nearly 1:1 scale. You level up as you play, gaining experience for shooting down enemy planes, destroying bases and enemy turrets, and achieving other objectives. The game also features many different challenges as well which offer bonus experience. Every time you level, you unlock something new. It might be a new challenge, or a new perk, or a new plane. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? This aspect of Altitude will have most players feeling right at home.
The game's core experience is much different from that of Call of Duty, of course. You are in the cockpit of one of 10 planes - each with a multitude of perks individually designed for them and which you can customize. Each of them plays differently and is ideal for different roles - but you can play them any way you like of course. The Loopy is the first plane you'll pilot. It is a fast moving, offensive plane - great for outmaneuvering your opposition. This is a great first plane as it really shows off the tight controls of Altitude.
The controls in Altitude are so precise that you almost get overwhelmed by it at first. It is amazingly simple - you use the arrow keys to navigate and S,D,F to use the various attacks/skills you have. The up arrow increases your speed, and you can use it to boost as well, but this uses up energy. Down arrow causes your plane to slow down and, if you slow down too much, your plane will stall out. Right and left arrow keys turn your plane in clockwise and counter-clockwise directions respectively. As mentioned, the S, D and F keys are used for attacks/skills. D and F make up your two base attacks, and you'll use S to deploy any power-ups you may have picked up while flying through a level.
Levels are boxes with static debris and obstacles in the way in between the left side and the right side to break things up. The levels are scattered with power ups which include a homing missile, a frontal shield that deflects incoming attacks, health packs, a static gate that causes enemies that pass through it to stall out, and more. These power-ups don't feel cheap, really, and add a lot to the gameplay. There are plenty of maps with a variety of layouts to keep you interested.
The multiplayer itself is very visceral and satisfying. After spending about 4 hours with the game so far, I still get immense satisfaction at shooting down an enemy plane as I barrel through a level and with enemies at my tail. You will run into players with some really high latency here and there, but for the most part it is not very noticeable. The game is not network intensive and as such, higher-than-usual pings are not a terrible detriment to the experience that Altitude presents.
Overall I was extremely impressed with Altitude. I had heard a lot about it but did not think it would be anything nearly as fun and addictive as it turned out to be. If you like multiplayer games then you owe it to yourself to play Altitude - you won't regret it, and like I said, paying $7.49 I feel like a thief and it is still a steal at its base price of $10. With the variety of planes and play-styles they introduce coupled with the customization options that Altitude offers, there is something for everyone and you'll never feel stuck having to play the same class/setup.