Review: Sine Mora (Xbox Live Arcade)
The dual developed Sine Mora puts you in the cockpit as an anthropomorphic ace pilot fighting droves of enemies.
Sine Mora is an interesting albatross of a video game, a joint development between the Japanese studio Grasshopper Manufacture and Hungary's own Digital Reality. This shoot-em up sneaks into the foray with some gorgeous visuals for an Xbox live arcade title, as well as classic top-down shooting action. In Sine Mora's story mode you're tasked to play through a series of levels as various pilots with their own fighter jets. The jets themselves only differ cosmetically, however each pilot comes equipped with a unique sub-weapon. As you complete each level you will unlock said level for the games other modes, as well as the pilots used with jet in hand. the plot at hand is somewhat dense and morose all the way through. I appreciate the unique setting as well as the characters which are all anthropomorphic mammals ( with a robot of course) but it is very difficult to follow and subsequently understand the story at hand. You experience what is supposed to be the occupation and massacre of the 'Enkies' by the Lilya Empire through the eyes of various pilots. You're not given much background information beyond that, but it seems this war has been long, drawn out and brutal. Really the only thing that is clear are the character motivations, which more often than not involve murder, rape and genocide.
The main draw of course is the shoot em up gameplay. Sine Mora is somewhat of a mix between R-Type and Ikaruga. The game is your standard fair when it comes to the genre of SHMUPS and it does what it set out to do very well. Nothing seems out of place, overly difficult and the strategy found in the game is enough for even beginners to wrap their heads around. The unique feature of this game's mechanics is the lack of a health bar, instead you have various checkpoints with time limits which you can add seconds to by eliminating enemies. When you take damage you lose time; the game mechanic of time is further used with the ability to slow down time for a small period of time. This will allow you to dodge the insane amounts of pellets thrown at you by enemies. The story mode clocks in at about an hour and a half, and while interesting and fun it's difficult to care for or even follow what is going on.
Sine Mora also includes an arcade mode which allows you to play through the story mode's stages without sitting through cut scenes (which can conveniently be fast forwarded by holding the LB button). You also have a score attack which further breaks down the levels and allows you to compete on the Leaderboards for a high score. Finally you also have what is somewhat of a practice mode where you fight the various bosses of the game one after the other.
Sine Mora while interesting and very creative it is hard to recommend it for the price of 1200 Microsoft points. The main story is too short, and the game modes are not enticing enough to give this title longevity. This game could have used a replay download feature found in the Xbox port of Ikaruga. I hope to see more Hungarian developed games, especially if the studio is shooting for something as creative as Sine Mora... oh and fyi Sine Mora is Latin for Without Delay.
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