FUR Squadron review: "Leading a squad of fuzzy fighters in space!"
| FUR Squadron
A wise quote once claimed space to be the final frontier, yet it is still only the beginning of video games. Raptor Claw is making its way to it with FUR Squadron. This rail shooter has you piloting a 3D spaceship through procedurally generated space. You can move the ship around the screen while firing shots, homing missiles, and bombs. You will gather shields and use the barrel roll enthusiastically to avoid enemy fire and break through their fleets. It's a chance to prove that you're the one to lead some rebellious pilots against potential threats to peace.
Whenever a group of rebels gets together, there's usually a pretty obvious reason for it. In FUR Squadron, it is spelled out for you before the game begins. In another universe, the evil-sounding Chimera Federation and similarly-sounding Skal Empire have signed the Fifth Armistice. This has created a very uncertain peace and there are those who still believe the Skal will break it at any moment. Hence, a small but skilled trio of pilots has formed the FUR Squadron and are honing their skills in space combat simulations. They are Axel, Kiro, and Blaze - who is the hero of this story, as much as you want him to be.
Despite the unusual naming choice, FUR Squadron does call back to the early days of 3D gaming, even before 64 pixels were possible. It has a very familiar and welcoming feel to the Starfox series which has been on hiatus for some time. This game showcases the only way to do a rail shooter: in a spaceship, in space, where it is conceivably impossible to stop moving. The touch controls work well for the range and execution of movement. They're very responsive in terms of dodging, firing, and charging blasts, so you always feel like you're both figuratively and literally in control.
Other space sims:
However, it's all about the combat when it comes to flying a fighter spaceship. Like the left-to-right spaceship arcade games of old, this one doesn't hesitate to throw squads of enemies at you. Some will charge right into you, confident in their shielding, while others will make sharp movements around the screen to take precision shots, and many more will debut as you continue. They're usually introduced piecemeal to get you used to them before combining them with other types of enemies and challenging you to show off your fighting skills. This then culminates in a huge boss encounter where the excitement comes in avoiding their barrage and taking their ship apart bit by bit.
Spaceship games are not always the easiest to translate to a phone, especially when they come in full 3D. FUR Squadron tries hard but falls at some technical and conceptual points. The biggest of these issues is movement controls. Although the other control mechanics are quite sharp, actually moving the ship around the screen feels sluggish. It is possible to play the game like this, but it robs it of feeling like you're flying smoothly and gracefully through space. It can also take a while to re-adjust on each level, which is an issue when enemies start filling the screen with bodies and bullets.
Then there's the unsatisfying fact that the game takes place in a simulation. It has that cool 80s digital look, but this limits the visuals in certain ways. Cyberspace is still space, but you're just shooting and destroying (or deleting) programmed enemies. There's not the flair of flying past stars, space structures, debris, planets, and asteroids or seeing the fiery explosions of giant enemy crafts when you defeat them. It also removes personality from enemy ships and your own.
FUR Squadron is a 3D spaceship rail shooter about training in VR simulations to become a hotshot pilot. It has the charm of classic spaceship shooters and controls that work well on mobile. Unfortunately, it has trouble making the movement feel and look seamless, and sadly removes a lot of overall character and context by setting the game in a simulation. Of course, if you're looking to train as a simulated spaceship fighter pilot, FUR Squadron has you covered.