Some reviews can take the easy way out and describe plot, atmosphere or other narrative events. Then you get games like Titan Attacks! (Exclamation included), a title that disposes of most of these trappings in order to present you with a clean game design. That doesn’t mean that Titan Attacks! is without great art, it uses a retro 8-bit styling to proclaim what it is; and that is a VIDEO GAME.
Yes this is an old school video game reimagined, with pure skill and strategy aspects at its core. None of that look at the lighting effects or physic engine shenanigans here; just pure arcade action.
So what type of game is it? Well it is a poor answer to say that it includes within its DNA (or should that be code) a considerable nod toward a single screen shooter by Taito featuring aliens who happen to like marching down the screen, a.k.a. Space Invaders.
The little plot that there is all about a lone tank driver etc. but all you need to know is left/right/fire/smart bomb. So what is new…?
Well the adversaries utilise a variety of flight paths that necessitates the learning of differing strategies. Accurate shot timings is also crucial since apart from clearing each screen a successful hit of the bonus ships will present a possible financial reward/score multiplier.
However care has to be undertaken in order not to incur penalties. The loss of your score multiplier is bad enough but the financial debit made to your in game currency that really hurts since between each stage you are allowed to purchase upgrades to the initial basic tank. Turning it into one that can survive and likewise customising it to your style of play into the bargain. And you do need to upgrade because this game does get tricky. Keeping the shield healthy is paramount (each hit hurts) since the incremental cost of restoring it will rob you of funds for the smart bombs, shot power or even the cash to increase the number of shots fired at a time.
As waves are cleared a larger foe is faced and once cleared the whole process begins again with a different landscape in the background along with a few other tweaks and additions. There is also an occasional bonus round where a number of saucers have to be cleared within the timeframe. As to what this gets you I can shamefully tell you I haven’t a clue. These opponents are unarmed but utilise a neat trick by CHANGING DIRECTION just as your carefully timed shot is about to hit. An incredibly annoying tactic!
As already mentioned the art style is a deliberate homage to the 8-bit era. If anything the reduced palette of colours can make the screen hard to see in a bright room since is uses a heavily weighted selection of purple hues and the background neon sign effects can disguise some of the enemy fire. But then there are the small touches that help to create atmosphere, the falling enemy shots are surrounded with a faint smoke effect and then there are the shells that bounce when they hit the ground.
There are 5 ‘worlds’ that also allow you to re-join the action at a later point in the proceedings when they’re cleared, although I did find that the restarting stats for your ship to be far less than I’d like but that could just be my poor play. This is cross-buy & cross-play title. Once purchased you have it for the PS3, PS4 and PSVita and progress did seem to be transferrable. As you would expect all versions were identical but I found the PS Vita edition to be more difficult due to the reduced screen size hampering my reaction time and hence the fine gun emplacement. This wasn’t too much of an issue as I soon acclimatised to it.
So what did I think of it?
Well it was a surprising entertaining piece of software and it has entered into my ‘go to’ games list for when I have spare 5 minutes, although in fairness to it and myself the games last a lot longer than that.
And lastly a thank you to the Curve PR team for the advance review copy.