POWER UP FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER AND THEN A LITTLE BIT MORE!
The game controls like most Multi-Directional shooters avaliable on our current generation of consoles. You control your crafts movement with the left analog stick and fire in all directions with the right analog stick. We have seen it before, but it's a control scheme that still works well and is reasonably easy to master. It's also not hard on fingers and thumbs like the control schemes of classic arcade games could be back in the day. This also means that playing can also be quite a pleasant experience, if your like me then you probably hook your Ipod up and listen to your favourite music while playing. This means that playing PowerUp Forever can actually be a very carming experience and it's actually something a lot of good arcades do nowadays. They can be thrilling but there also simply fun and this game is no different. Going back to the controls for a second, one complaint that I do have is with weapon selection. As you start getting multiple weapons you are required to select which one you want to use. So to do so you use the LB and RB buttons on the Xbox 360 controller. Now this does it's job fine but it can be a clumsey way when getting the right weapon especially considering you can only select one weapon at a time. This means that in the heat of battle you may find yourself searching for the right weapon (which is indicated by a symbol) and find yourself killed while you do so. This could have been better mapped out on the controller.
PowerUp Forever handles well though and is free and easy to use. The controls respond well and it's easy enough to dodge enemies heading your way. Some of my main issues with the game actually come down to sound, it's not the best sounding arcade game out there partly due to poor sound effect choices. I don't usually moan about such things and as I said previously I do often play with my own music hammering my ears. But theres some odd sounding noises in PowerUp Forever. For instance when you craft hits a hard object and takes damage you get this weird metal tapping noise that is simply unpleasant to hear. I guess that in itself is a good reason to stay away from the solid objects in the game if death wasn't enough. But it is a terrible sound effect that makes me gringe when I hear it. Some weapon effects sound nice while others sound dull and a little to repetitive. For instance your standard plasma weapon as a dull and almost weak sound to it. I want to hear big impact sounds as I fire off my weapons, not some quiet dull effect which makes my weapons sound and feel weak. Ok, maybe I'm being a little harsh on it there as the same critism could be placed on Geometry Wars, but it would be nice to hear some better sound effects from time to time in current arcade games.
The games soundtrack isn't exactly breathtaking either, sometimes it's almost inaudable. PowerUp Forever does feature some catchy tunes in certain stages but for the most part it's a pretty dull affair. Maybe I'm simply expecting to much from a game that only there to please my arcade nostagia needs. But to many current arcade games are trying to play both modern and classic, but also try and offer modern hip music and fail misserably. I would have loved to see some catchy tunes in the style of 8-bit with a moderrn touch or something similar. Geometry Wars 2 had a much improved tune that was a pleasure to play over and it would have been nice to see the same in PowerUp Forever. Though the more I think about it, the more I do wonder if I'm simply asking to much from my arcade games nowadays. I've just become so use to hearing classical soundtracks in modern videogames that I start to think that every game should have some monks singing some beautiful tune. It's because of this issue that I'll happily stick to using my Ipod Touch and listen to my favourite tracks. It's a common technique that I know a lot of arcade gamers use to.
GEOMETRY WARS 2 VS POWERUP FOREVER..... LET WAR COMMENCE!
Maybe it's wrong for me to compare the two games, when looking at PowerUp Forever you can see a well built example of a arcade shooter at it's best. But it's also blindingly clear that it's in the shadow of Geometry Wars 2. It's a stunning looking arcade title that will be a pleasure to view by any arcade gamer out there. But more could have been done with what's done so well here in the first place, the stages are brilliant and visually different on screen but the gameplay doesn't change at all. It would have been great to see the gamer required to adjust his skill and ability to each different stage. It would have also been great to see maybe more lessons learnt from the original Geaometry Wars and it's sequel. Infact I do have to wonder if this is indeed just the entry for the series. Theres enough great things on offer here to make me wonder if we will see a sequel worthy to challenge Geometry Wars 2. Maybe it's a series just finding it's feet in the arcade world of console gaming and developers Blitz Arcade have created a fine first entry. But more lessons must be learnt before PowerUp Forever gets the full praise it already shows it potentially deserves. It won't be to everyones tastes, but it's at least worth a trial look if not a full purchase for 800 Microsoft Points. I'm not totally sure how much the game is going for on PSN but it'll be around the same price as the Xbox LIVE Version no doubt. If you had any interest or love for Geometry Wars, then I highly recommend you check this arcade title out now. Despite it's downfalls and issues, it's still one of the best arcade games to hit consoles this year.
PROS!- Stunning Visuals in HD.
- Simple yet addictive gameplay mechanics.
- Weapons offer a good amount of variation.
- Great variation between the different stages.
- Full High Score Leaderboards online.
- A lack of depth in some of the extra modes.
- Controls can occasionally be clumsey in the heat of battle.
- A lack of gameplay variation between stages.