Developer: Calin Culianu
Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store
Within a few minutes of playing Lunagames' ATC 4.0, I began to marvel at just how competent real air traffic controllers must be. Here I was, juggling only five planes in the air and still couldn't manage to keep them from colliding, missing runways and causing all sorts of mayhem.
I dig Air Traffic Controller 4.0 in a major way. It's innovative, challenging and smart. If you like sims, then you'll want to wrap your head around this one.
ATC 4.0 has a nearly flat learning curve: Tap the plane as it comes into view, tap again to set way points to fly the plane in the direction you want to go and line up your approach to a runway and land. A variety of planes dot the sky, ranging from jumbos to fighter planes. When the traffic demands it, you can slow or speed up your planes to help avoid collisions.
There's a heck of a lot depth to this game too: ATC 4.0 has 49 levels, which the dev refers to as "days," and every day is a new day. Some days it's sunny; some days it's cloudy; some days it's snowing; and some days the President decides to drop in and you need to set up a no-fly zone.
On the busiest days, you're guiding planes over an airfield with six runways, struggling with hurricanes, computer malfunctions, flying at night and freaking out when the collision warning system starts wailing.
It's a lot to deal with, or at least I think so. I haven't gotten deep into ATC 4.0 because my brain is still rewiring itself so I can do a better job of multitasking and keeping my stress level low. The head ATC boss says I need to lay off the booze if I want to keep my job.
The graphics in ATC 4.0 are superb, especially when you consider just how much gets packed into the iPhone/iPod touch screen's small real estate. Lunagames used an OpenGL game graphics engine to create shadows, cloud effects, weather effects, landing lights, smooth animation and sound effects.
About the only thing missing from ATC 4.0 is the Hudson river.