I am continuing with the rather futile task of playing all the video games.
With one huge exception I have relatively little experience with Shoot 'em Ups. Until 2006, I'd never bought one - I thought they looked dumb. Then, (the first time I met him), Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. I was instantly hooked. The bright coloured shapes... the background which warped as you fired your bullets... the music! Geometry Wars is still in my top ten favourite games. It is also the only game I have ever topped an online leaderboard, (admittedly on an obscure level in the equally obscure Nintendo DS version)... but it still felt good!introduced me
Since then I have played quite a few Geometry Wars clones, but nothing (other than Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2), kept my interest for more than a couple of hours. I've also since revisited some of the classics of the genre, such as Ikaruga, and had some fun with some of them. I have come to the conclusion, that they are the sort of games which are hard to do right. Because most of the experience is usually incredibly repetitive, it is essential to get the core mechanics right. The smallest fault can soon start to niggle at a gamer - and I think I have a low tolerance for the genre, so it takes something which reaches the heights of Bizarre Creation's classic to keep me interested for long. Luckily for me 0 Day Attack on Earth only took about 90 minutes to burn through... It still outstayed it's welcome.
Game 000014: 0 Day Attack on Earth
0 Day Attack on Earth is a co-operative top down dual analogue Shoot 'em Up from Square Enix - not the sort of game I'd traditionally associate with them. It is available to download for 1200 Microsoft Points from Xbox Live Marketplace.
The game features three seven-part levels, where the player(s) have to defend off alien attack over New York, Tokyo and Paris. Rather cleverly, the maps are based on Google Earth images with many of the buildings rendered in 3D. That's the best thing about this game... The background maps. Even those lose much of their magic after you watch endless spaceships crash to earth into buildings without even denting them.
Your allies (CPU) are atrocious, get stuck on map geometry and don't seem to realise that the enemies all have weak spots so just fire seemingly at random. The enemies seem mildly interesting at first, and it's quite fun working out how to take down the bosses efficiently - but after New York Day 1 you just fight exactly the same space ships and monsters again and again for the next six levels, until the whole process begins again with a new city. Most of the modes are multiplayer only, and apparently the servers have been pretty dead since a month after launch.
The majority of the enemies in this game are pretty tough, and take a while to take down. The idea is that you learn how to defeat them and avoid their attacks during the early waves. This then puts you in a better position to deal with dozens of identical adversaries later on. It's all pretty sound design - but I think ultimately the game never really gets intense enough to be exciting. You can almost always find space to retreat, regroup and try again. The best Shoot 'em Ups can bring on an adrenaline rush which allows the player to overlook the repetitiveness, and often get chaotic to the point of forcing players to rely on instinct and muscle memory in order to progress. This game seems to be encouraging a very cautious style of play - and I'd be surprised if any dual analogue shooter could pull that off.
Other than that the game is pretty functional - the controls work as you'd expect - left stick to move, right stick to fire. There are a few (slightly) different handling aircraft to unlock. Although there are no alternative weapons or power-ups to collect - which is a shame, because it would have added some much needed variety to the game. You have three lives per level and three bombs to use per life. Bombs do a small amount of local area damage, and you also has a completely pointless boost which is insanely fast and almost always results in you colliding with an enemy as soon as you use it.
As I said, I have a low tolerance for these games. My hunch is that it is terrible - but maybe it's actually mediocre. Luckily, the final boss fight was pretty simple, so I got my achievement fix when I found out I didn't have to replay the whole game on hard!
This is turning into a rather prolific week for this blog - although I'm getting a Wii U on Friday, so things may return to a slightly slower pace for a little while soon. However my XBox informs me that 0D Beat Drop has just finished downloading, so I better get started on that.