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9Feb/100

Xbox Live Indie Game Review - Square Off

This is one of those side scrolling arena style shooters that I had to warm up to. Partly because it can be extremely frustrating in single player.

It actually has a story, and a pretty funny one at that. Apparently the human race for a long time has been fighting off alien invaders for a long time, and we're getting our asses kicked. So a scientist who had been sent to a mental institution and made things called Square Avengers.

And that's who you play as. The Avengers themselves unfortunately don't have any distinguishing characteristics whatsoever other than being different colors though. Which isn't a huge deal. If nothing else in the multiplayer it makes them easy to make out who's who.

The overall presentation is great mixing up 3D arenas with 2D character models. Each of the characters animates extremely well, along with the aliens themselves that blow up into little alien giblets all over the place with the frame rate keeping steady the entire time. It all has a very similar style to games like Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers. Each stage has it's own musical score and all of it sounds great except for the title screen music that is just retarded and doesn't fit anything else in the entire game. But other than that small little hitch, the presentation is awesome.

The gameplay itself is yet another dual stick style shooter, which is fine and it works well. Except that you've got to hit the right trigger to fire your weapon. It's rather pointless and should have been left as an option, but whatever. There are a few types of weapons, but I mainly try to stick to the spread shot just because I'm a terrible aim. You just go through the 6 unique areas and fend off the alien horde. After 5 waves, a boss shows up. You kill the boss, you can either go to the next stage or keep fighting until you die which does add a hell of a lot of longevity to the game. There are also a few other powerups like a little helmet and a rocket that will make you move faster ... which is indeed a great thing to get because the Square Avengers move a little too slow for my tastes, and even slower when you're using the right analog to aim.

While the game DOES offer coop play and deathmatch for up to 4 players, it doesn't support Xbox Live. Which is why I haven't played it multiplayer. If it doesn't have Xbox Live support, I don't give a damn about the multiplayer. And this is the type of game that NEEDS that kind of support because to be perfectly honest it's rather boring single player and for gamers like me who don't do the Nintendo Wii thing and sit down in front of the TV with other people and play the games that way,  it's a real letdown. I'd rather do my gaming over Xbox Live. Period. My deathmatch and coop experiences have ALWAYS been either over a phone line (yeah, I'm that old), over the internet or over a LAN.

And, unfortunately, there aren't all that many unique alien types. And the variety in the bosses is even less. You see the same types and the same boss for the entire game up until the last level. Now, the grunt aliens themselves, while there isn't much variety in the way they LOOK they all do have individual strength and weaknesses so it isn't just a palette swap of the same damn alien every time which makes up for the lack of variety.

7.5 - I could see this game being a hell of a lot of fun multiplayer, but as I said, I don't waste my time with the Nintendo Wii style of playing a game multiplayer. If I'm going to play a multiplayer game it's GOT to support online play ... which this tragically doesn't have. And it's honestly not that fun single player, even though it's extremely well done in every other aspect. This is the type of game you've GOT to play with other people, then I could see it being a BLAST to play.

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