A well-polished arcade shooter.
By Harry Hughes
Price: USD $9.99 (AUD $10.16)
The evolution of gaming has brought to the table many new elements in each gaming genre. These new elements have allowed us a highly advanced gaming experience within each genre. As they begin to get stale, we see some developers mix and match components from across different genres in an attempt to offer something new and put themselves ahead of the competition. In most cases, however, the result is a mixed-up, ugly game.
The recent release of ProtoGalaxy, developed by Source Studios, shows us that multi-genre games can indeed be immersive. It takes different features from numerous genres, and the gameplay reflects this - arcade action, shooting, puzzling and exploration have all been integrated into one neat little package.
To call it a 'little package' is a little unfair, actually. This game is jam-packed with features. Not only can you play through the expansive campaign on your own, but you can play it with friends, too - either online, or on the same system using controllers. Throughout the campaign, you'll come across extra ship parts - or you can use money (which you get from destroying enemies) to purchase them. There is a large number of possible ship configurations because of this, which really goes a long way in adding something to a game like this one.
If that wasn't enough, then perhaps the level editor will add some extra replay value to the game. Players can create entire campaigns, and choose the goal of each mission. These campaigns can be downloaded by other players and, once again, be played in either single or multiplayer mode.
Aside from the incorporation of puzzle/adventure aspects, there are a few major factors which set this title apart from more traditional space-themed arcade shooters. Firstly, the hit system is (thankfully) based on health, instead of a pre-determined amount of hits. Your health is upgradeable through new ship parts. It can also be restored in-game using the repair tool. Switching between different weapons, and the repair tool, is quite awkward, and is done by holding down the 'mouse-2' button and moving around the circle of weapons which appears. This is one of a few flaws in this game, as it does not allow for quick and accurate weapon changing, which can be a real let-down in action-packed areas.
Another change is the way the game changes between different views. ProtoGalaxy does not stick to one infinitely-moving view like many other arcade shooters. Instead, it switches between a series of views. While the traiditional vertical/horizontal moving areas are still present, more prominent is the adventure-style square view, where you can move back and forth between different areas. The transitions can be a bit messy but the use of multiple views is a nice touch.
The array of weapons is also rather impressive. Not only are the turrets, missiles and other goodies all upgradable throughout the game, but some physics are introduced nicely through the gravity weapon. This allows you to drag around different objects, and becomes vital in completing puzzles. As well as this, it can be used to sling enemies around the place, into walls or other enemies. Damage can also be done here, the amount determined by the speed an enemy was slung at.
The gravity gun not only allows you to slay enemies, but becomes integral in surviving. In some areas, a player will find that fighting his way out is just not possible. If this is the case, it's not hard to drag something in front of your ship and use it as an extra means of defense.
This is one title whose high list of pros manages to continue into the presentation. The soundtrack - though slightly generic - fits the bill, and the visuals are quite sleek with only a few graphical clashes. The in-game visuals can also be changed to suit one's tastes. One gripe a player might have with the presentation was the mouse movement speed in menus, which is terrifyingly slow. While this is only a minor problem, it can easily become an annoyance.
The Final Verdict:
ProtoGalaxy is exactly what any fan of the arcade/shooter genre will be looking for. It really does offer a complete experience, with different ship configurations and adjustable visuals going a long way to allow a player to make the experience unique for them. Custom campaigns will prolong the experience found in one of this year's most polished indie titles.
A great mix of arcade/shooter, puzzle and adventure.
Sleek, but with some graphical clashes.
Though generic, the soundtrack is superb.
ProtoGalaxy is a highly-polished title and should be purchased by anyone with an interest in the arcade/shooting games.