|System: X360 (XBLA)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: CrunchTime Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: CrunchTime Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 3, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2 (Online 2-8)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Why doesn't a "game over" simply deduct a specific number of points, rather than taking away everything earned? And why is it often possible to hyper jump before all the enemies are dead, sometimes when the text bubbles (rife with misspellings) are warning of a major ship approaching?
This game is, much like BioShock, simultaneously too hard and too easy. In both games it's remarkably challenging to defeat all the enemies without dying, but both make it possible to avoid powerful foes and simply plop the player back down whenever they kick the bucket. Facing the final boss of Shred Nebula cost us double-digit "game overs," but when it comes down to it, who cares? The ending is ridiculously anticlimactic anyway, amounting to little more than "keep an eye out for Shred Nebula 2, kids!"
Multiplayer mode, while less innovative, fares significantly better. With slightly tweaked controls, players can choose from numerous vehicles and duke it out in well-designed arenas, either on a split screen (two players) or online (up to eight). There's even a split-screen Score Attack mode.
The sheer number of options - various ships, various attacks, various power-ups, various dodging maneuvers, etc. - makes this a genuinely strategic competition. CrunchTime's CEO is putting together a tournament with the goal of raising $50,000 for prizes.
All this game takes place against a backdrop of techno and rock music. It works, but it doesn't truly complement or enhance the game; it doesn't sound otherworldly. The same space air that slows down the ship carries the sounds of enemy vehicles exploding, which are convincing enough to forgive the unscientific touch.
Shred Nebula has the right idea: Take top-down shooter action, spice it up a little, and create stages for people who prefer identifiable goals to random point-chasing. Complement this with a great multiplayer mode. In executing this idea, the developers didn't exactly hit the nail on the head. In some ways, they pretty much missed the nail entirely, but there's a lot they did right, and it's worth the 800 points ($10) for anyone who's getting sick of Geometry Wars and its sequel.
CCC Freelance Writer