Friday, May 23, 2008

Assault Heroes 2 - Review

I was given the chance to review the XBLA title Assault Heroes 2 by the ExiledGamers website on behalf of Vivendi. It wasn't exactly a game I was excited about but I had played the original and I thought it would be interesting to write a review. Plus I got the game free, pretty cool.

I generally find this type of game quite difficult but Assault Heroes 2 manages to set the difficulty level just the right side of challenging. The enemies come at you in huge numbers so you'll soon find yourself trying to dodge enemy fire from all directions. Thankfully, the controls are nice and responsive so you'll only have your own reflexes to blame for any failure. The bosses will also provide a real challenge but not so much that it will put you off the game as I found with Ikaruga. Not only does the game provide a challenge but it also brings some much needed spectacle to this type of game. Just look out for the alien 'whale' enemy on the first level that jumps out impressively at the screen before spitting out a hoard of enemies to take you down.

The game also provides some variation in the gameplay. You won't always find yourself driving your tank as sometimes you might be forced to take a narrow path so you'll just have to get out and hike it. The times you are on foot make for some frantic gameplay as you desperately dive out of harms way to avoid being hit all the while letting rip with impossibly big guns as you search for the next vehicle to board. You aren't restricted to just your normal vehicle either, with attack helicopters and heavy-duty tanks on offer. Assault Heroes 2 has one major ace up its sleeve, the inclusion of a multiplayer mode for either local or online co-op play. While making the game slightly easier because of the extra firepower available it also brings cool co-op attack moves to the party. Co-op play also adds a little depth and strategy to proceedings as you can keep playing as you would in single player or perhaps play a more cooperative game with your partner.

For all of the games pluses, I had the same problem with Assault Heroes 2 as I have had with all other scrolling shooters - repetitiveness. It is impossible to avoid really as you basically travel in one direction through each level with your finger on the trigger. The game goes to some lengths to try to offer some variety in with a glut of distinctive backdrops and imaginative upgrades to your armoury. It is unlikely to be enough to keep me coming back to the game for a prolonged period of time but it does more to keep you interested than many similar games.


I played the original Assault Heroes and the sequel definitely has the upper hand in the graphics department. It looks sharper, has some very good lighting effects and a lot going on onscreen without any slowdown. It is cool that you can destroy nearly everything on screen and burning down trees looks so cool. The viewpoint is at just the right pitch so you can see exactly what is going on. All in all this is just what you need from an XBLA title in terms of graphics which aren't groundbreaking but a nice improvement on shooters from yesteryear.


I would describe the sound design as solid rather than spectacular. There is a good retro score and lively sound effects so nothing to complain about here. I must give a special shout out to the foot soldiers that charge towards you, all yelling like some kind of demented group of chickens. Brings a smile to my face every time.


The controls are perfectly implemented in the game. The left stick is for movement and the right stick is used to aim and fire. The trigger buttons are for selecting weapons and firing bombs. All simple enough and nice and responsive.


This isn't a ground breaking game - shoot anything that moves (and some things that don't), defeat the boss and repeat. The repetitive nature of the game is a real problem for me and after a few hours of play I began to think that the game had given me all it had to offer. Having said that it does provide some classic arcade action with a nice HD shine for a budget price and you can't say fairer than that. If that doesn't convince you that it is worth a few hours of your time then download the trial and decide for yourself.