- Street Date:
- November 15th, 2013
- Reviewed by:
- Bill Braun
- Review Date:1
- November 23rd, 2013
- Game Release Year:
- Sony Computer Entertainment
- ESRB Rating:
- E10+ (Everyone 10 and older)
Finnish independent game developer Housemarque left their mark (several, in fact) during the life-cycle of the PlayStation 3. With titles like 'Super Stardust HD', 'Outland', and my personal favorite, 'Dead Nation', they took the downloadable title to new heights with impressive visuals, deep game play, and addictive challenges. Through their mastery of the twin-stick shooter mechanic they kick off the next generation with 'Resogun' for the PlayStation 4.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
"Save the Last Human" are the first words you'll hear when starting a new game and are the pretense for the intense action that follows. Played on a track that spins on a vertical cylindrical plane, you fly one of three varieties of ships in either direction, managing both offensive and defensive stance as you are bombarded with waves of spawning enemies intent on your complete annihilation.
While any semblance of story takes a backseat to the action and twitch-style game play, the addictive format and competitive score-chasing of 'Resogun' will undoubtedly melt away the time without the distraction of the contrived story that might have been unnecessarily inserted. With no tutorial to speak of, you are immediately dropped into the action. Thankfully, the controls are easy enough to digest that even a rookie shmup (shoot 'em up) gamer like myself was able to quickly grasp.
As a twin-stick shooter, you control your ship with the left stick while horizontally firing your weapon out the front or rear with the right. In addition to your main weapon you'll also have an occasional opportunity to utilize a screen-clearing bomb. Overdrive is a powered up weapon unique to each of the three available ships. And the Boost ability lets you speed around the 2D map, destroying everything in your path, ending with an area-effect shockwave blast. The tools of the trade are at your fingertips, knowing how – and when – to use them will determine your success.
'Resogun' is a much deeper experience than a first glance might suggest. True score chase enthusiasts will take note of the multipliers. While there is no shortage of enemies, the multiplier up is fed and maintained by the damage inflicted on those enemies. Those brief moments of calm, when enemies are too far away to hit, will result in your multiplier dropping; to the point of losing it altogether. 'Resogun' also provides additional rewards and points for not using any bombs during a level, instilling a sense of risk over reward.
Sure, score chasing can be good fun, but let's not forget about those poor humans that need saving. Each level starts with a number of humans trapped, side-by-side, in tiny compartments. Humans are individually freed and dropped from their imprisonment after specific enemies have been destroyed. It's your job to scoop each human up as quickly as possible and deliver them to safety, all while managing the intensity of your own personal bullet-hell. Success will deliver a variety of bonuses – extra points, a charged up shield, an additional bomb – but time is short. The humans won't last long out in the open and trying to reach them is harder than you might think.
In a fun, intentional quirk of gameplay, the humans can be shot, which launches them into the air and multiple shots allow for juggling and for swooping in for a grab.
Completing the individual phases of each level will prompt a Boss battle. These are generally large geometrical objects that slowly work their way toward you, firing a barrage of lasers and fireballs. They typically have a number of clearly identified weak points that need to be destroyed in order to diminish both the size of the boss and its health bar. While a fairly standard trope across video game genres, these Boss battles are the weakest link to 'Resogun'. They come across as unimaginative and somewhat boring. As creative as the rest of the enemy types are leading up to this final battle I would have expected something more dynamic and interesting.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
The visuals of 'Resogun', simply put, are incredible! Both the environment - the gorgeous city background - and enemies are made up of three-dimensional cubes called voxels. When destroyed, these cubes rain down in an impressive display that you can't help but get distracted by. When a level is completed, "Armageddon" is triggered and all that remains on-screen turns to voxel dust in a slow motion, explosive moment of epic greatness.
Even though the game space fills up quickly with explosions, lasers, fireballs, and massive amounts of enemies, the frame rate never suffers. It remains silky smooth from the launch of the game to the bitter, nerve wracking end. I was stunned while playing the online co-op mode by the game's ability to deliver such an intense experience without issue. On-screen 'Resogun' is dazzling and thereby easy to recommend as PlayStation 4 demo material.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
'Resogun's' music nicely matches the frenetic nature of the game. As the gameplay ramps up (and it does so quickly) you'll notice that same level of intensity mirrored with the soundtrack. Adding to this a solid performing surround field and 'Resogun' does a fantastic job of immersing the player into the chaotic action.
The developers at Housemarque also utilized the DualShock 4's internal speaker to affective use. As weapons are powered up, bombs are added, and humans are saved (or lost), a commanding female voice advises you of your progress or failures, continually prompting you to do better, play harder, and die less – at least that's how I began to interpret things the longer my play sessions got.
Dedicated score chasers will undoubtedly benefit the most from 'Resogun'. The itch to always do better, to beat the best scores on your friends list, or shoot your way to the top of the leaderboards, will always need scratching. The option to play with one other friend in online co-op is also appealing. When doing so, I noticed an increase in the difficulty level. But in the end, the levels, enemies, and boss battles were still the same as when played solo. I fully expect Housemarque to begin delivering downloadable content in the form of new levels and a greater variety of ships to choose from, but until then this reviewer (not being a die-hard shmup) has enjoyed 'Resogun' in short bursts.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
If you own a PlayStation Vita, you'll find that Remote Play accommodates nicely with 'Resogun'. Much like 'Super Stardust Delta' when it was released in 2011 for the Vita, 'Resogun' offers a similar sweaty-palmed experience for the handheld. Although the visuals may not be quite as jaw-dropping as they are on my 55" Samsung LED, the OLED of my PlayStation Vita still does an impressive job of representing the game as it was designed.
'Resogun' was first out of the gate for the launch of the PlayStation 4, and there's a reason why Sony chose this downloadable title to be one of the first added to the PlayStation Plus Game Collection. Its impressive visuals, slickly smooth gameplay, and addictive score chase are a perfect match for the start of this new console generation. Although the number of levels currently available are small, and the variety of ships to play with are few, there's no denying 'Resogun' deserves a place among the PlayStation 4 family. Whether as a free game to start your next-gen addiction, or paid for in full, 'Resogun' should find a way into your gaming library sooner rather than later.
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