Ever get a thirst for the kind of drone combat that Call of Duty merely teases you with in its portrayal of the AC-130? There aren't many people that don't feel a little cheated by Call of Duty, cheated out of what could be an incredible gameplay format all of its own as you're fed tiny snippets of aerial-view strike-based combat by the legendary first-person shooter series. You don't have to worry about being thirsty for more drone action after playing Drone Shadow Strike however; this game specialises in giving you a healthy variety of different unmanned drones to pilot as you decide the outcome of a multitude of covert missions.
Drone Shadow Strike doesn't water down its gameplay with ground-based missions or any events designed to dilute the aerial action as you would find in generalised war games of Call of Duty calibre. Expect to be in full control of a drone's weaponry as you play through a significant quantity of missions, all designed to give you the most challenging and also diverse drone-based experience on the app store.
The gameplay itself consists of controlling one of the game's variety of unmanned drones. Don't worry: the movement of the drone is taken care of for you as the drones circle the area relatively slowly at high altitude. It's up to you to swipe in the direction of the action however as many missions involve scanning the area numerous times in order to identify and eliminate targets that are either trying to fire at you or at targets on the ground. Besides swiping to force the camera view in the direction of your swipe, the only other controls you need to worry about are the on-screen that fires your weapons (bottom-left corner) and also the fact that you can deflect surface-to-air missiles headed in your direction by tapping on them to release an intercepting flare.
Though it is difficult to fault the gameplay, it has to be said that it is Drone Shadow Strike's XP and money-based progression mixed with a non-essential objectives system that lends itself to the game's truly addictive nature. Gameplay is after all split into separate missions (each with their own stereotypically militaristic-sounding titles such as Basic/Elite Training, Dead Air, Boombox, etc.), each with essential and nonessential objectives attached to them. Completing the missions rewards you with money and gold, but the real money is in fulfilling the nonessential objectives which consist of fulfilling criteria like earning a minimum kill combo, destroying certain objects within a certain amount of time, and finishing a mission without using any flares.
As you progress further and further into the game's missions, you will find yourself agonising more and more over the nonessential objectives since this is where you'll earn a majority of your cash. You'll also earn XP with each mission that allows you to level up and unlock more weapons and drones.
Drones and Weapons
One of the things that truly sets Reliance Games' drone-based combat fest from its rivals is the sheer selection of drones on offer as well as the weapons that make them deadly in combat and also the upgrades making these weapons even more efficient at destroying the enemy.
Your basic starter drone is the MQ-1 Predator, though parting with $135,000 or 200 Gold Bars (the game's premium currency) will get you the Mantis. $7.5 million or 2000 gold will get you the ROC, and the holy grail of the drones in this game is the MQX-WRAITH, though this costs $10 million or 4000 Gold Bars. There are many other drones in between these extremes however, allowing you to constantly strive for something better through either grinding or perhaps paying some real cash in exchange for some premium currency.
A quick venture to the Hangar (essentially the game's weapons/items/drone menu section) will also allow you to upgrade various aspects of your drone such as its armour, flares, radar, and stealth. Also available for upgrades are your drone's cannon and missile hardware items. Cannons range from the basic Minigun to the Longbow cannon whilst missiles clock in from the bottom-tier Griffin AGM-176 to the elite Maverick AGM-65, with much hardware to be discovered in between. These hardware considerations truly put this game well ahead of its competitors, leaving games like Limbic's Zombie Gunship eating its metaphorical dust and even giving rival flying games like Metalstorm Online a run for their money.
Whether or not you'll enjoy Drone Shadow Strike depends on whether you're looking for a dedicated drone combat game that doesn't mess around when it comes to content. Its gameplay gets right to the point, offering dedicated missions that will test out your drone combat skills. Long-term enjoyment of the game comes from fulfilling the nonessential objectives to earn cash that will allow you to in turn upgrade your hardware. It's an addictive cycle, spoiled a little by intrusive video ads but never by leaning on you too violently to get you to part with real-life cash. An addictive, well-presented, and slickly executed drone game, Drone Shadow Strike is a must for any fans of aerial combat.