Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Beat Hazard Ultra

Genre: Arcade, Action (space-shooter), Music Driven.
Developer: Cold Beam Games
Publisher: Cold Beam Games via Steam
Released: 2010

Zolgar paid: $3.74
Beaten: There is no 'beating' Beat Hazard
Zolgar's rating: 8/10
Replayability: High

There are two versions of Beat Hazard, technically. Beat Hazard Classic and Beat Hazard Ultra, they are mostly the same, with Ultra having more enemies and more shinyness. As such, my review will mostly be focused on Ultra.

Beat Hazard is an arcade-style Space Shooter in the style of Asteroids, and if you had to click the link to find out what Asteroids was, congratulations, you have made me feel old. Simply put you fly your ship around the screen blasting enemy ships and flying rocks trying to kill you, while you collect power ups.

As far as an Asteroids Clone goes, it's actually pretty good. A lot of enemies to face, both in-game pickups to boost your power, as well as upgrades to your vessle that carry through your game. Of course there are also assorted game-play modes, and multiplayer for if you feel like it. Paired with nicely polished, very shiny graphics, you get a game that is well worth playing.

However what stands out about Beat Hazard is it's engine. Music powers Beat Hazard, and any music you feel like playing from your computer in fact. The tempo of a song determines how fast enemies move and how fast their attacks move, and in general how many foes there are. Unfortunately it also determines how fast you shoot, and seems to adjust the power of your attacks, too.

This means though, if you're wanting something slow and mellow, very relaxing to play, you can just hit a soft slow song, but if, instead, you want something insane and fast paced to play you can pop in Dragonforce or the like, allowing you to control how your game plays out. As an added bonus, you're guaranteed background music that doesn't suck.

The bigger music collection you have, the more options you have and the more replayability Beat Hazard gives you.

Beat Hazard offers 4 main gameplay modes:
"Standard", One track at a time, try to avoid dying much, rack up a high score and get money.
"Survival", It plays through one album, or folder of music, and if you survive it all, starts over again. Last as long as you can!
"Boss Rush", Like Survival, only every wave is bosses. See how many waves you can get! (great source of money)
"Chill Out", The mode for if you don't want to worry about death and score and stuff. It plays like Survival, except you have infinite lives, and several perks automatically maxed out.

There is also 2-player co-op or Head to Head, available either through an ingame server, or playing on the same rig (requires at least 1 game controller that the game believes is an Xbox controller).

For the completionist there are a few extras:
23 Perks to unlock. Perks alter the game, usually in your favor, some add a spawn of random powerups at the start of the game, some increase your score multiplier, others give you new equipment. Only a limited number can be active at any time though, unfortunately, so it requires you to decide exactly what you want to be able to excell at. While Perks are unlocked by gaining Ranks, you have to purchase the Perk to be able to activate it, then you can use money to further upgrade your perk to make it more effective.

26 Ranks to achieve, ranks are based off your total score. Every time you go up a rank, you unlock a new Perk, although if you go up more than 1 rank at a time, you only unlock 1 perk still.

43 Achievements, by now if you've read many of my reviews you know I like to mock achievements, because they're anything but. Beat Hazard is really no exception, there are a few achievements that are 'real' achievements, but most of them are just the same crap that passes for achievements in every other game, playing the game how it's supposed to be played, or playing for an arbitrary amount of time. Thankfully there's only 43.

One further note about the two versions of the game. You might be tempted to just buy Beat Hazard classic as it's only $9.99, but it really lacks the polish and options of Ultra. And if you consider, the Ultra upgrade is $4.99, and the iTunes file support is $1.00, combined that would be $15.98, while Beat Hazard Complete is $12.99 with everything.

"Beat Hazard, Asteroids' raver of a little brother."

Availability and price:
Steam: $12.99
XBox Live: 400 points
(I am unsure if the XBL version is Ultra or not)

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