Last week was fairly disastrous for XBLA. Whilst there was a pretty tasty DOTW for the taking, Microsoft had nothing to offer us Europeans in terms of new content... hell, even the Game Room update was delayed! Luckily, Major Nelson has overcompensated this week by offering us a solid deal, the Game Room expansion, a bunch of avatar gear (yay) and two XBLA titles. Let's start with the deal, shall we?
- Click here to download Zombie Apocalypse for 400 MSP (Gold Members only)
Zombie Apocalypse is a twinstick shooter with delusions of survival horror. Imagine a Left 4 Dead finale scenario from a top-down perspective and you'll be somewhere near the mark. The graphics are surprisingly shiny, the weapons handle well and shooting zombies into snow blowers never gets old.
Unfortunately, whilst there are over 50 stages there are only seven levels- meaning that you'll be seeing the same cramped environments and enemies over and over again. Several foes are also controller-hurlingly cheap; though the infinite continues turn the experience into an insane, tedious grind. Several levels can take over half an hour to complete! Still, 400 points is a reasonable price for a huge amount of content that's made bearable with a mate or two along for the ride.
Zeno Clash Ultimate Edition and Raystorm HD are the latest additions to the XBLA game library. Our full review of Ace Team's truly bizarre brawler will be going up tomorrow, but here's the skinny on Taito's reskinned classic shooter.
Raystorm HD Micro Review
If you've ever played a vertically-scrolling SHMUP, you'll feel right at home with Raystorm. It's a classic shooter through and through; featuring hordes of enemy fighters, giant bosses and swathes of incoming fire to weave your way through. Whilst your ship's weak guns are only good for basic crowd control, Raystorm features an AfterBurner-style set of homing missiles that have to be aimed using the onscreen reticule. Balancing constant evasion with the need to lock on targets lends considerable depth to an otherwise unremarkable experience.
Unfortunately, Raystorm brings nothing new to the table. Its eight levels have only been given a slight HD facelift rather than a complete overhaul (in fact, it looks plain ugly in places) and the soundtrack is still absolutely hideous. Most damningly, even the insanely difficult "13 Plane" mode can't disguise the fact that it doesn't deserve its price tag. 1200 Microsoft Points is daylight robbery for an arcade game, and it's a shame that we didn't see Raystorm locking on to Game Room instead.
- Faithful recreation of a classic shooter
- Lockon Mechanics add depth to the proceedings
- Control layout can be customised. It's all about the little things.
- Could do with being a lot more HD.
- Horrible soundtrack
- It isn't worth 1200 points. Period.
The short version: Raystorm is back and raring to go... but it's just too short and expensive to recommend to anyone but diehard shooter fans. Had it debuted at 800 MSP or been amalgamated into Game Room, things might've been different- but you'd be better off browsing the Indie Games channel to get your SHMUP fix.
Game Room and Avatar Update
It's here! It's finally here! And no-one cares!
Still, the new update for Game Room has finally been released. Pitfall and Super Breakout are the highlights of the package- and I'd strongly suggest buying them for your PC instead of your Xbox. Bizarrely, the controls are more responsive and much easier to customise.
In other news, the Final Fantasy XIII and Game Room Avatar Marketplace packs have been released today. So, if you want to dress your virtual self like an I'Cie or a Space Invader, your dreams have finally been answered.