Luftrausers – As We Play

As we play offers the thought strands of the reviewer as they’re going through the game. This offers unique content for the reader so they can come to understand the conflicting feelings of the reviewer as they’re playing a game for the very first time. All feedback on this concept is welcome.

For the video version of this overview, view here…


Vlambeer are back with another arcade hit that is sure to steal your soul and force you to soak up your pride. With hits like Ridiculous Fishing and Super Crate Box already under their belt, these guys have a reputation to keep. Originally based on a flash game put together in two days, Vlambeer have gone the extra mile with Luftrausers, spending over two years bringing it to PC and Playstation 3.

In case you never experienced the original flash phenomenon, the aim is to pilot a plane while trying to survive as long as possible against an onslaught of fighter pilots, submarines, battleships and even blimps. The idea is to score the most amount of points possible, complete particular objectives, level up then advance to the next stage.

But the simplicity ends there. Where Luftrauser was a simple flash game with that exact premise, Vlambeer have gone deeper and redesigned the experience from the ground up.


The first thing that might strike you about Luftrausers is that it doesn’t have a traditional menu screen, rather an innovative hub that lets you access everything easily with the tap of an arrow key.

Press up and you launch straight into battle, but if you tap down you’ll enter a Hangar. Here you can completely customize your ship. The waves of enemies will change depending on the loadout you go along with, as will the level conditions at the bottom of the screen. Completing each of those objectives will boost your score and also push you closer to the next level. The game builds up multipliers for everything you kill and when you get a max multiplier, naturally your score increases become bigger and better.

Using this tumbler, I can change out my weapons, whether I want to use an all penetrating, powerful laser, a five-shell shot knockback or even a standard peppering machine gun. I can also switch out the body, giving my vessel an all-rounded shell, one that is more durable  and can take more damage, or even one that blows up like a nuclear bomb, wiping out everything on the screen.

Finally, the engine can be swapped out for features such as zero-gravity, no water damage and even faster speeds but with slower turning.

There are all sorts of combinations to be made here and you’ll need to keep choosing different setups in order to measure your success.

The hub also shows your last result, your best result and the current mission conditions you’ll be asked to complete each time around. There’s also a fully blown stat screen that shows you how well you’ve gotten on, what type of enemies you’ve beaten and how long you’ve been playing the game for. You can even see your current leaderboard stats, the best global players and direct opponents and how much more you need to score to surpass them.

The game itself is an addictive affair. Attack everything in sight with your weapon of choice, but if you come under fire and you’re still shooting, your health will not recharge. In Luftrausers, you need to pick your spots. If you’re getting shot at and are on the brink of death, fly away, skirt around then come back for more when you’re charged up and ready for battle.

Eventually you’ll come to learn that certain weapons are best served to kill certain enemies. Lasers, for example, will eat through the defenses of a boat, but you’ll need to rely on fighters coming at you in a long line or as part of a fleet in order to maximize usage. Meanwhile the homing missiles are great if you want to put distance between yourself and your opponents and still keep racking up the points.


The same applies to every other part of your vessel. Where no damage in the water will obviously better place you to fight ships, faster speeds mean you can get away from Ace Pilots or violent Battleship fire, leaving your enemies behind in a trail of smoke. And of course, the body shell works in similar ways.

Luftrausers really rewards strategy as well as competency at play, yet it can be enjoyed by anyone. While most games today have leaderboards, it’s games like Luftrausers that really make you want to come back and best yourself and those around you. In fact, you won’t stop playing until you’ve done precisely that.

Luftrausers is amazing fun. You’ll be ready to stop playing, then suddenly you’ll advance a level or unlock a cool new toy, then you’re back in the game.


The unique, five colour palette instantly makes the game stand out in its own distinct way, but it’s the subtleties in Luftrausers that really bring it to life. When you fly close to the sea, waves of water will come up to greet you, or when your plane is on fire, pillows of smoke will engulf the skies as the screen turns white and clamps down around you.

Luftrausers plays like a dream, though there are a few stutters in frame rate here and there when the action gets hot and heavy. Also, the plane will sometimes get stuck on a boat if it dips in the water and tries to fight back up, making it harder to pull away. On the whole, however, Vlambeer have released a ridiculously complete, well-honed and crafted game.

If you thought the original flash game was great, you’ve seen nothing yet. This is a fully fleshed out, well developed, high-end independent game that will totally re-emphasise Vlambeer’s complete understanding of what makes a fantastic end-product.

Areas for Development

  • Some frame rate hiccups when action gets frantic
  • Plane sometimes gets caught on ships

Final Analysis

I have nothing but good things to say about Luftrausers. Value for money. Technically brilliant and entertaining to the last. Vlambeer strike again. Do they know how to make a dud? It certainly doesn’t seem that way.

Technical Competency – 9/10

Graphic/Sound Quality – 9/10

Network Stability – 10/10

Overall – 9.5/10

(These grades assess our playthrough, taking into consideration how many (if any) bugs were encountered, whether there were any interruptions in gameplay and the product’s final technical state. These scores, coupled with the Final Analysis and Areas for Development, are suggestions for future patches and updates which the developers could (and in our opinion, should) explore. These scores are separate to our DLC/Expansion Reviews but link into our Patch/Firmware Reviews.)

(These scores are not designed as a grading system to determine the entertainment value of a product and should not be treated as such..)

About the author

Ray Willmott

Ray is the founder and editor of Expansive. He is also a former Community Manager for Steel Media, and has written for a variety of gaming websites over the years. His work can be seen on Pocket Gamer,, Gfinity, and the Red Bull Gaming Column. He has also written for VG247, Videogamer, GamesTM, PLAY, and MyM Magazine,