COPTAR is an Augmented Reality (AR) game that not only places you behind the controls of a combat helicopter but will also use what you see as the backdrop for the game. COPTAR launches your Windows Phone camera and uses whatever is around you as the gaming background; be it your living room, backyard or street corner. Game play is very similar to any other air combat game with power-ups that fall from the sky and a handful of missions to tackle.
While the concept behind COPTAR has a certain amount of appeal, the game falls short on user-friendly controls. While available for low-memory devices, COPTAR has potential but until the game receives a little fine-tuning, the gaming experience can be a little frustrating.
While game play takes on a non-traditional approach, COPTAR's main menu is laid out in traditional fashion. You have options to jump into game play, access the gaming options (sound/music), view the tutorial screens and view the developer credits. The tutorial is simple an overlay detailing where all your controls and dashboard indicators are.
Game play is spread out across five missions where you have to defeat a certain number of enemies. When you enter game play, COPTAR will launch your Windows Phone camera and wherever you point your camera, that image becomes your gaming backdrop.
Controlling your helicopter's flight is done by moving your Windows Phone around. You may look funny but spinning around while you play the game does help get you into the flight aspect of COPTAR.
Weapons controls are handled by tapping one of the two joysticks at the bottom of the screen. The difficulty with the weapons controls is that the joysticks move with your helicopter's movement and blend in too much with the dashboard, making them easy to miss.
Another nit against the weapons controls is that it is very difficult to see any indication that your weapons are firing. The machine gun flash is difficult to see. While the rocket launch will generate a more noticeable flash, the machine gun fire needs a little boost.
Your cockpit dashboard includes a radar screen that will show you where friendly and enemy helicopters are, as well as green dots to indicate health and ammunition power-ups. You also have a health meter and HUD (Heads Up Display) switch on the dashboard. The dashboard does have a cluttered feel to it. The health meter is difficult to read and I kept tapping the HUD switch accidentally when searching for the joysticks.
Game play does have a slight zip to it. Enemy helicopters can be rather aggressive and if you are not careful, once they get behind your helicopter they are hard to shake off.
COPTAR is a Windows Phone game that has a decent amount of potential and delivers an interesting gaming concept to the Window Phone Store. Unfortunately, the cool factor fades away rather quickly once you get into game play and realize how cluttered and cumbersome the gaming controls are.
The flight control (moving your Windows Phone around) helps simulate the gaming action but the weapons control and cluttered dashboard really needs renovation. The two joysticks used to fire the weapons needs to stand out more to make them more identifiable during game play or just have a broad area at the bottom sides of the screen to fire rockets and machine guns. You also need to see the weapons fire more noticeable on the screen or haptic feedback when you hit the fire buttons.
I understand the developer working towards a realistic view of things but realistic doesn't always translate well in the gaming world. For example, your health meter is a tiny display to the side of the radar that is difficult to read. Why not put a small meter at the top of the screen to reflect your health and ammo status. It may not be realistic but it should be more practical for a video game.
Again, I do think COPTAR has potential and worth trying. Just don't get your hopes up too much. COPTAR pulls in a 3.5 Star rating in the Windows Phone Store and with a little fine-tuning, the game could reach 4.5 Star range.