By Jared Newman | Monday, February 8, 2010 at 5:25 pm
Thanks to Gizmodo, I got wind of Sky Siege, an augmented and virtual reality game for the iPhone, and I plunked down $3 at the App Store so you don’t have to.
Using the iPhone 3GS to look around, you must track down little helicopters, blimps and fighter jets, taking them out with a machine gun or missile launcher before they get you. You can either play the game with its own grassy field background graphics, or switch on the camera to use your real life surroundings as the battlefield. The game plays the same either way. Here’s a video showing the action:
After playing Sky Siege for about 20 minutes, I’m a little bit dizzy from all the spinning and twisting, and believe me, 20 minutes is all you really need. The virtual reality target practice is amusing at first, but it’s a one-trick pony. It wasn’t long before I had enough of the augmented reality gimmick, cool as it was.
Seeing as Sky Siege is the only augmented reality video game I could find in the App Store, it comes off more as a tech demo than a fully-realized game. Other than using your room as a backdrop, there’s no actual interaction with the real world, which might’ve added some nuance to the experience. There’s also no dodging or other movement required besides spinning and twisting to aim. As a game, Sky Siege doesn’t stand on its own; if it used virtual thumbsticks instead of an orientation-tracking algorithm, I certainly wouldn’t recommend it.
But there is potential here. I want to see more games that take the real-world theme deeper, like the upcoming Ghostwire for the Nintendo DSi. Sky Siege proves augmented reality gaming is possible on the iPhone — and if you’ve got $3 to burn it might be worth getting just to impress your friends — but it’s not the definitive example of what augmented reality can do.