For those of you who have been living under a rock or in Soviet China for the past week or so, there is a new game out on the Xbox Live Arcade called Aegis Wing. This, as I’m sure you probably know, is that “free” Xbox Live Arcade title that has been all over in the Xbox media the past week or so. But while the lure of a free game may be tempting, the all important question remains to be asked — is it any damn good?
In short: Yes, yes it is. From the moment you jump into Aegis Wing, you are hit with a gaming euphoria not matched since R-Type. If you were (or are) a fan of side-scrolling shooters, this game is perfect for you. So already you know what the gameplay mechanics of the game are — it’s a side-scrolling shooter. You play as a single ship against a seemingly endless army of alien invaders. Or maybe you’re the invader? Hell, I don’t know — the story really isn’t the game’s selling point.
This game is all about blasting the crap out of everything, and to that effect, it does a damn fine job. The controls are both simple and smooth, with multiple buttons doing essentially the same thing. For instance, if you are someone who wants to reminisce to the old days of NES, you can use the D-Pad and A &B buttons to play, rather than the Joystick and triggers (my preference). Your base weapon is your simple blaster cannons, but you can get one of four different upgrades. They are:
Lambda Shield - a Shield upgrade that deflects enemy attacks, doing damage to any enemy they strike.
Hades Beam - a super-powerful cannon that destroys EVERYTHING in it’s path. Sans bosses.
Arcus Missile - cluster missiles that can be used to strike a group of enemies.
Gorgon Burst - a pulse weapon that generates a temporary field, crippling enemy ships and dissolving base enemy attacks. My personal favorite.
Each weapon has it’s own distinct advantages and disadvantages. If you’re getting bombarded by enemies, you may not want the Hades Beam. You may want the Cluster missiles. More often than not you will find yourself in an winless situation if you don’t have the right weapon.
Oh, did I mention that this game is hard as hell? Because it is! Hell, even if I was a whiz at these old-school games, it would be hard, but I suck to begin with. Then I see all these little red dots flying towards me and I just about had to go change my undies. The game throws everything but the kitchen sink at you all the time, which makes the experience a hectic one, to say the least.
Aegis Wing is a very colorful game. Right off the bat, you can choose from one of six colors for your one-ship army. Once you actually get in the game, this becomes important — some colors you can see better than others in the chaos. There are a few simple enemy types, all distinguishable, yet none of them really exhibit any real personality — outside the corn stalk looking thing you start fighting once you reach the halfway point of the game.
The environments are all pretty much the same — space debris, space station, back to space debris. The lack of variety in the environments could get stale but, as I’ve said already, the action is far too hectic for you to be looking at the background for anymore than a half a second. The ship models are also basic, but you can tell that they’re ships, and that’s really enough. I was actually quite impressed with the particle effects in the game — the ship engines, as well as explosions are all light shows that capture your attention just long enough you blown up. Or maybe it’s just that I like pretty colors.
My favorite aspect of the game is the music used — it reminds me of the old Buck Rogers serials from the 1920s and 1930s. It’s fun, it’s over the top, and it’s a blast to listen to. The other sound effects in the game are your fair share of basics — explosions, weapons fire. That’s it. But they are all done well, and match the mood of the game very well.
Look, it’s not the end-all be-all game on the Xbox 360. But, you get a very fun, simple game that you can sit down and play for about fifteen, twenty minutes and enjoy. Which is more than I can say about Double Dragon. Not to mention it’s FREE! In short, unless you hate video games, you have no reason to now own this. Download it right now.
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