yanngc33's Swarm (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

Death by Numbers.

Do you enjoy death? Are you the kind of person who laughs at obscene, comical demises such as the ones found in The Itchy and Scratchy Show? Than Swarm might appeal to you. Its quirky sense of humor and weird concept seem fun at first before being violently shot down by poor controls, bad level design and a game breaking bug that will have more than one player give up before the credits roll.

Swarm doesn't care about telling a story. You play as a swarm of little blue guys who must cause enough mayhem to feed their queen. Right off the bat, these little guys are charming, each of them dying in pretty terrible ways (this makes for one of the best main menus in gaming history) and making weird sounds. Their look kind of feel out of place however, in front of the bland environments. It's a shame that the developers didn't stick with some kind of artistic theme, it would have made the dozen or so levels you play through much more enjoyable.

Swarm's gameplay is unique. It's a cross between Lemmings and Bulletstorm with a certain Pikmin feel added in the mix. You must guide your swarm of 50 through increasingly hard levels. Causing mayhem will get you points and you must have a certain amount of points by the end of the level to succeed. This is both a fascinating and frustrating concept. Fascinating in the sense that you must constantly keep your multiplier going. Killing your own swarm will get you points forcing you to make a choice between keeping yourself alive or risking it. Frustrating in the sense that this game is hard. Very hard. You're sometimes attacked from all sides, left helpless to watch your swarm endure a mildly entertaining death. Unfortunately though, this isn't the good kind of hard à la Super Meat Boy. This game is hard because the level design and gameplay fail.

Swarm's gameplay is its biggest problem. You control the game with the left stick, using the triggers to do things such as sprint. You'll soon realize that the controls don't have the responsiveness needed to survive the later stages of the game, your swarm feeling like a bar of wet soap. But the gameplay isn't the only problem. The game's camera and level design are a mess. You have to deal with a fixed camera that doesn't always show you jumps which makes for a lot of trial and error. The level design makes trial and error seem like even more of a chore with levels that are set in pitch black darkness asking you to guess where the next jump is. Super Meat Boy's difficulty came from solid gameplay and level design, testing your skills without becoming exceedingly frustrating. Here, you feel like the only reason you're dying is because the game was poorly made.

Finally, this game has a pretty severe bug on the 360. If you have watched the QL on the site, you see that at the end, the game locks up. This actually happens every 3 successful levels and forces you to reset your console. This glitch happens almost every time and like most bugs it is a pain. Which is why I recommend any potential buyers wait until a patch arrives.

Swarn is all things considered a disappointment. It has funny characters and an interesting premise which is bogged down by mediocre gameplay and a game killing bug. I would only recommend this to players who are looking for a really hardcore challenge. Everybody else should go play Super Meat Boy.

One Word Review: Broken

Yann

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