My coworkers often make fun of me for playing everything. And I mean everything. I play bad licensed kids games, purchase weird iOS games with the word “Fart” in the title, and deem any game that scores a 1 or higher on Game Informer’s scoring scale to be in my wheelhouse. People often ask me why I play these games, and I say that they give me perspective. One of the few games that I refused to play this year was Psyonix Studios’ Arc Squadron, an on-rails space shooter for iOS.

My reason? I hate automated firing systems. Hate them with a passion. If you throw me into a spaceship armed to the teeth with laser blasters, I want to fire them. If Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing automatically fired the torpedo that destroyed the Death Star, all of the drama would be stripped from that pivotal moment. And yes, I do see a parallel between a game like Star Fox and Star Wars’ Death Star run.

So, that brings us back to Arc Squadron and its automated targeting system. Despite being inundated with friends and coworkers telling me that I was “being unreasonable” and “would absolutely love it if I gave it a chance,” I wouldn’t budge from my stance on the automated targeting system…until yesterday. I caved.

It turns out they were right. The automated firing system doesn’t diminish the intensity or fun that Arc Squadron delivers. The thought of “I wish I could fire these guns” washes away after a few seconds. The automated firing system and general ship movement are joined in a way that works incredibly well. It’s more a game of quick evasive movement, than sitting in one place to unload rounds on a foe. In most stages, I found myself dancing all over the screen to dodge rocket blasts, rolling asteroids, and to fire off a few shots at a heavily armed vessels. The ship’s movements are silky smooth, and a barrel roll maneuver is perfectly implemented with a hard swipe of the finger.

Special weapons add strategy to the mix. If missiles are equipped, the player can tap individual targets to launch them. If defense is called for, a doppelganger hologram can be deployed to draw enemy fire. Lasers, burst missiles, smart bombs, reflective shields, burst lasers, squadrons, chain lightning, and black holes can also be called upon as the game unfolds.

There’s no shortage of content here. Arc Squadron is a gargantuan game, offering over 60 beautifully designed levels. Depth also comes from the shop, which allows for the purchasing of new ships, upgrades, and skins. All of these items can be purchased with in-game currency. Levels can be farmed, if you so choose.

And then there are the mods that can only be purchased with real cash, and are surprisingly spendy. Double currency will set you back $4.99. A shield costs the same. If you don’t want to unlock items through the game, you can throw down $8.99 to unlock them all at once. While I’ve found double currency to be helpful in games like Jetpack Joyride and Temple Run, I didn’t see a need for it in Arc Squadron. Currency is thrown out at a decent rate, and having over 60 levels to replay doesn’t hurt, either.

Arc Squadron is a must-play for fans of Star Fox and Panzer Dragoon, and anyone looking for a great space shooter for their iPhone or iPad. As of this writing, Psyonix Studios has reduced the price to “free.” You can’t beat that.

I played through version 1.21.