Jet Run: City Defender has all the glorious sights, sounds, and spectacle of a summer blockbuster. And as a trigger-happy endless runner it’s just as willing to capitalize on popular trends. But ultimately, it’s all that beauty, not bullets, that threatens to bring down this beast.

Jet Run: City DefenderJet Run: City Defender

Aliens are threatening the planet and it’s up to the player to take them out. From the very beginning,Jet Run shoves its most impressive attribute, its spectacular visuals, right in the player’s face. The game contrasts a super bright, crisp, highly-detailed and realistic city world with giant, neon, blocky aliens that look like Space Invaders sprites after being dumped into a 3D printer. It’s a great, almost Scott Pilgrim effect. Adding to the insanity are flashing lights, swooping camera angles, and a thrilling sense of speed. At times, watching is nearly as kinetic as playing.


Jet Run: City DefenderJet Run: City Defender

Unfortunately that also means the gameplay itself feels more pedestrian by comparison. It’s just an adequate, repetitive endless runner with the only depth coming from the heavier emphasis on shooting. Players tap enemies to launch missiles but their guns can easily overheat so they must attack intelligently. They can also use a variety of power-ups, with the boss-killing nuclear bomb being the most over the top.

But ironically, it’s the game’s dense visuals that cause the most trouble. In addition to moving across lanes laterally, players can swipe up and down to avoid bombs and obstacles. But the graphics are so busy that, even on an iPad, it can be hard to make out exactly what’s coming towards the ship - leading to poorly explained explosions. This also happens whenever players must swipe to turn a sharp corner and differentiate a clear path from a dead end. Meanwhile, while the world itself is beautiful, it also feels a little cramped. By making all these turns players will feel like they are constantly going in circles, flying endlessly over the same streets and past the same buildings.

Jet Run: City Defender's dynamic, action-packed graphics are the source of its highest highs and lowest lows. With the gameplay’s level of quality somewhere in-between, the whole thing averages out to a flawed but still pretty good time.