- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 7, 2012

Apple’s magical tablet brings a harrowing World War II adventure to life as a daring pilot attempts to single-handedly take down Japan’s Axis forces in iFighter 2: The Pacific 1942 (EpicForce Entertainment Ltd., reviewed for iPad 2, rated 9+, 99 cents).

The drama arrives through a top-down look at an American fighter plane as it vertically flies over land and seas.

A player directs the aircraft with the drag of the finger around the screen or can even use the iPad’s motion sensor to twist the tablet and attack the enemy. It remains in continuous fire mode with unlimited ammunition and strikes air and ground targets in or near its path.

The pilot can engage 32 types of enemies — through six extended missions and eventual choice of seven aircraft such as the F4F Wildcat and P-51 Mustang and with occasional sidekick help (including from a pair of XF-85 Goblins to XF5F Skyrockets). With that firepower, the pilot will become very accustomed to getting shot down with teeth fully clenched.

Some help is available for our brave warrior as enemies drop star coins while exploding that translates into the in-game currency to buy such extras or upgrades as big bombs, super bullets, fuel refills, temporary invincibility and better aircraft to help turn the tide of battle.

Those powerups also randomly float around in dogfights, ready to be picked up and used. They can specifically beef up guns, allow a pair of less powerful aircraft to join on the sides of the fighter for a set time or deliver a massive bomber that flies over an area and decimates anything in its path.

As far as displaying the action, I have no complaints. A player gets some gorgeous looks at micro aircraft. Kamikazes will fiercely attack your plane. Japanese battleships, aircraft carriers and ground tanks fire away while you are maneuvering in the open seas or above an island beachhead. All is embellished with fiery explosions, clutters of glowing ammo rounds in the air and loud sound effects beckoning a player to continue the war.

However, the terrible news is that the difficulty level of the game, even on normal setting, is eye-watering.

Of course, the developer offers a way to buy more star coins quickly to accumulate that one important chunk of firepower to finish a mission or bundles of extra lives via the dreaded in app purchase (prices range from 99 cents for 5,000 coins to $19.99 for 128,000 coins).

This is an all too-common ploy these days that makes many a gamer cry foul.

If a player commits and buys a game, no matter what it costs, and can’t really enjoy it at a fair difficulty level without spending more money, why not just charge more cash up front?

Instead, consumers get sucker punched as the developer ratchets up the failure rate and skimps on the pilot lives to encourage spending.

For all of the fun parts of iFight 2: The Pacific 1942,  the economics of this virtual war dragged me down into defeat.