LUFTRAUSERS Review: The Best Rauser Simulator Ever Created, The Most Addictive Game in Years

By Alex Riviello , Updated Mar 25, 2014 08:49 PM EDT
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Much like Vlambeer’s previous games Ridiculous Fishing and Super Crate Box, LUFTRAUSERS seems the simplest thing imaginable. All you do here is fly a plane (here called ‘rausers’) on a 2D screen and shoot down other planes, presumably to defend your great, unseen, nation. Once in a while you’ll kill a boat. There are a handful of different enemy types that try to shoot you and if you survive long enough you’ll face a blimp, which is likely to destroy you. You’ll die here in defense of your nation… a lot.

At first glance the graphics are one or two steps up from Asteroids- dots for bullets and barely more than triangles for planes. You shoot enemy units, they go down, and more come at you until you die yourself. All of this is controlled with just four directional keys and one more that fires your weapon. You just can’t get much more simple than this, which makes sense when you learn that LUFTRAUSERS was originally a flash-based web game.

So why is it so utterly addicting?

In the last week I’ve sat down to review this game- no joke- at least dozen times. Each time starts with me booting up the game to remind myself of some aspect of it and ends with me pushing away the computer an hour later, disgusted at myself and pissed at the game for destroying me so thoroughly a dozen times in a row. But I keep coming back, again and again. Right now, writing these words, I’m tempted to close this and keep playing.

Part of the reason it’s so damn perfect are the controls. You push up on the keyboard (or analog stick) to fire your engines and your rauser will shoot off in the direction it’s facing. If you ease up your rauser will eventually stall and start falling, so you have to constantly keep firing it to stay in the air. Once you get the hang of it you'll love the feeling of dancing around, avoiding bullets while shooting down foes.

As you get hit yourself your Rauser will set on fire and then eventually explode, but you can heal yourself by merely letting go of the fire button for a few seconds. Of course, if you do that the enemies will mass more and more, so you have to do it sparingly when you have a second to catch your breath, which is rarely.

Another great part is the game’s deep customization system. When you build your Rauser you have a option of what weapon, body and engine to choose from. Each part comes with a set of missions with it- you might have to kill a certain number of enemies with a particular weapon, or . There’s 125 different possible combinations to choose from, each of them with fun names like ‘Greedhead’ or ‘Karaterauser’. Even better? The soundtrack changes depending on the parts you use, the song staying the same but the instruments giving each piece a different feel. You’ll find yourself swapping parts to try and finish certain missions, gradually finding out what works (and sounds) best for you, going for high scores just because the game is just that addicting.

You can try out the free version of LUFTRAUSERS here to get an idea of how well it controls, how wonderful and responsive the controls are, but keep in mind it’s just a taste of how much the full version offers. Besides the much-improved graphics and effects (it’s still simple, but stuff blows up real nice) there’s a new Level system in place that lets you earn points for every match and eventually earn your way to level ten. Each level will give you new unlocks, just like the weapons, and even more reasons to keep playing and putting off your work. Just try and stop it.

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LUFTRAUSERS was reviewed from a Steam code provided by the publisher. It is available on Steam and Humble for PC, Mac and Linux and also on PS3 and Vita.

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