Look-Up: Augmented Meets Alien Invasion

How often have you been hanging out in your drab environment — office, dorm, house, post office — and thought to yourself, “You know what would make this place more exciting? UFOs flying around my head.”

Probably at least once a day, right?

Look-Up, a new “augmented reality” game from Soulbit7, promises to shake things up by invading your space with alien attacks. Does the game deliver?

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New Game

The Concept

Look-Up is an “augmented reality” game: it uses your iPhone’s camera to present your actual environment in the game and then superimposes interactive layers on top of it. In Look-Up, those superimposed layers are UFOs and weapons to attack them with. The objective of Look-Up is to point your iPhone toward the sky to discover incoming UFOs and blast them to tiny bits and pieces.

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In Space No One Can Hear You Bark

Getting Started

Look-Up is easy to pick up and play; the epitome of casual gaming. There are really only two “buttons” you can press: the “shoot” button (red) and the tractor beam/H-bomb button (blue).

Once you choose to start a new game, you must select whether you want to play in 360 degree mode or 180 degree mode. The 360 degree mode will have aliens attacking you from all around; not only will you have to hold your iPhone up to find the UFOs, you’ll also have to turn your body in circles.

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Level Selector

A multiplayer option is also available via BlueTooth, allowing you to team up with a friend to fight off the invaders.

Gameplay

Gameplay is pretty simple: shoot the UFOs with the red button; use the tractor beam to pull in health power-ups and H-bombs.

In order to be successful you’ll have to move your iphone all over the place to spot the UFOs. The higher the level goes, the harder they are to take down. Their movements become more jerky and their speed increases. If you play in 360 mode you’ll also be spinning around a lot trying to keep up with the alien ships.

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Shooting an H-Bomb

The gameplay is fun for a while. If you’ve never played an “augmented reality” game it will pleasantly surprise you the first time you see the little UFO crafts layered onto your actual surroundings. The saucers are cartoonish and fun to look at, the music and sound effects are very fitting for the genre, and the buttons are big enough that you’re never frustrated with the actual controls. It also makes for a great game to show off some of the iPhone’s capabilities to people who are curious.

It’s fun to pass the game around between friends and see them walking all over the room and turning in circles while trying to save the earth from conquering hordes of alien lifeforms.

Shortcomings

Unfortunately, while the gameplay is interesting for a while, Look-Up quickly stops being enjoyable. There’s very little variation between levels, the H-bomb isn’t nearly as fun to use as it should be, and most of us got dizzy and felt a little nauseated after only a few minutes of playing. We even tried sitting in a rotating office chair so that turning in circles would be easier, but the combination of having to look up at often extreme angles and spinning around quickly to shoot down threatening UFOs made it similarly sickening.

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Tractor Beam

The game mechanics keep it from being playable in a public locale. Turning in circles and staring up in the sky while waiting in an airport would probably get you arrested, and doing it at school would probably ensure that you unwittingly wind up as the star of a popular YouTube video. This gives Look-Up limited appeal because you certainly won’t be playing it while trying to pass the time at the Department of Motor Vehicles (and if you do, you won’t be getting your license).

Graphically the game has not yet been updated for the iPhone 4 Retina Display.

Final Thoughts

Look-Up has a fun concept, and it’s a pretty cool game the first time you launch it. The comical little UFOs hovering around your environment and the sound effects/music are all well done.

Unfortunately, its lack of variety and dizzying gameplay quickly make it a bore after only a few play-throughs. There’s just not much here to keep you coming back for more.

Look-Up is currently available for $0.99 on the App Store.


Summary

A fun concept that quickly wears out its welcome with repetitive gameplay and dizzying game mechanics. The graphics and sound are good enough that you want it to be better than it actually is.

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