.. we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender..
Aces High with it's fast tempo and theme around dogfighting would be a fitting song to Altitude. Shamefully that is the only comparison. Altitute was released in May 2009 and as with most of the Steam indie games it has gone through several iterations of sales. One of such where I picked my copy.
Idea behind this 2D aerial combat game is simple. Taking some of the most popular multiplayer elements and cramming this into a fast paced dogfighting multiplayer bonanza. Player can be pick one plane out of five. Each with their own advantages. Such as fast and nimble Loopy which can hardly take any hits. In other range you find Explodet which is slow and chunky bomber. Each skill and objective in the game give more experience which unlocks new ranks and perks. Levels go up to 60. Similarly to Prestige system player can choose to restart level from scratch while getting a Ace badge.
Game modes vary from standard deathmatch to more team oriented tasks. One such team mode being the ball-mode. Here one ball is dropped to the field and team's objective is to get this to the opponents goal. Same time the other team is trying to prevent this and get hold of the ball and score themselves. Couple of other modes around the same ideas with only one life exist as well. Here the player is re-spawn after round is finished, which is normally only couple of minutes. In normal games the spawn happens after 6 seconds, which will happen often since the average life-time is usually around only 1 minute. Time going up naturally with more experience and skills. Interestingly for such a simply looking game one would not think there is a such steep learning curve. Sure the controls can be mastered in very short time but making each life last longer is not as easy as it sounds like.
Graphics are very plain 2D cartoon inspired. This is very fitting for game to run on a very modest PC/MAC/Linux. Also this helps to keep the multiplayer action lag-free. Server limit is set to 50. So many players crammed into a small field with bullets and bombs going everywhere still keeps the action fast.
For 2009 multiplayer game there is still a active community with countless number of servers and players. Altitude has an own level editor as well keeping the variance up. Still this would be my only complaint. While the game is ideal for bite-sized multiplayer fun there isn't enough of game modes and variance. Still this is worth every penny, especially if you get it on sale.