Old school shooters are not being made as frequently as they used to be, so it’s refreshing to play one. In Beat Hazard Ultra, you’re a space ship in the centre of the screen and it’s your job to shoot down all the different enemies. The twist to this game is that the music is intense, hard-pounding techno, and the beats of the tunes can be seen in the beams of your lasers and the enemies. There is also a multiplayer option so you can play co-op with a friend next to you or online. BHU is a fast, action-packed, beautifully made game. Cold Beam Games have done a great job here.
The controls are pretty simple as the left analogue stick is for movement whilst the right stick moves the nose of the ship and is also the shooting control (just tilt the stick forward to shoot). Your arsenal of weapon have been mapped to the shoulder buttons, L2 enables your reflect shield, L1 fires the mini-missiles and R1 is for your devastating Ultra beam. There is also the addition of a super explosion (R2) that gradually radiates out from you in a 360o circle. The movements feel very smooth and the ship slides around in space with a good weight to it, you feel that its solid but at the same time one hit will lose a life. So be careful with your movements.
The gameplay in BHU is fantastic, there will be hundreds of enemies coming at you and the screen gets very busy, but it’s the pyrotechnics the game offers that are truly mind-blurring. BHUlooks like it’s on an acid trip, the colours are vivid and bright, and almost everything on screen pulsates to the intese beat of the music. Truly, this is a fun game, sometimes you lose sight of your ship as there is so much mayhem on screen, but it’s so god damn cool.
The game feature waves of enemies coming at you in patterns, with a boss fight at the end of each section. When you finish, you are awarded points which you can spend in the perks management section. The perks are pretty cool and include more weapons to pimp out your ship with. The game’s single player options offers the Standard mode (as explained above), Survival mode, Boss Rush and Chill Out Modes. The Survival mode is exactly what it says; survive wave after wave of attacks. Boss Rush allows you to fight against all the bosses and try to win, although you’ll struggle, as it’s very very hard. In contrast, Chill Out mode is when you have unlimited lives and can sample all the weapons and just shoot the crap out of everything, which is great fun and highly satisfying.
The graphics in BHU are truly amazing, the detail of the ships is good but the attack patterns they take are always varied and the boss battles are very hard to finish. The weapons look stunnig as they shoot forth from your ship and the dazzling light, stars and various other flashing effects are done with a lot of care. Its pretty clear that Cold Beam games went to a lot of trouble mapping these effects and getting the timing just right with the music.
While the set music is just amazing – all techno and very upbeat – perhaps the best thing about BHU is that you can use your own tunes in the game. Any music you have have stored on your PS3 can be imported into the game and Beat Hazard Ultra doesn’t just adapt to incorporate it, but actually takes each track and uses it to create a unique level. It may not be a completely original idea, but the implementation of it here is seamless and extremely cool and helps increase BHU’s appeal and longevity exponentially.
The various weapons sound right when fired and the alarms and hazard sounds are also done well. This game also offers a great online mode where you can challenge gamers and also take part in co-op play. There are leaderboards as well. The game also offers a rank-up system based on how many points you get, so you can work your way up from trainee recruit to Elite. Be warned, though, you need a crap load of points and time to get to Elite.
Overall, Beat Hazard Ultra is a fun, intense, fast and very beautiful game. It offers a lot in terms of entertaining old school arcade shooting, with amodern musical twist. There is no story but BHU will still hook you. Trust me, you will hurt your wrists, but it will be worth it as the thrill of beating the bosses is motivation enough to keep playing. Add to this the co-op and online modes and you have a game with a pretty decent life span and one that you will keep playing. Old school shooters are back, baby.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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