I was lucky to get hold of an early press release beta version of the game and dived into to pretty hardcore gameplay, made by ArrowHead Game Studios the same company that make Magicka and Gauntlet so they have the top down, twin stick shooter genre down to an incredible art form already.
This time, in the form of HELLDIVERS you are an elite space solider sent to the far out reaches of space. You are then completing missions, conquering planets and eradicating the alien populous. Because the game isn’t out on Steam until the 7th December I held out on writing this review for a few days. As a single play experience it’s tough, you are heavily outgunned making the objectives quite difficult to obtain. Not impossible but it’s a hefty struggle, the instant you get a team-mate it makes the game more enjoyable and as you can play with up to four people (sadly the maximum I’ve had was three) the game really opens up.
Each player can lay defensive turrets, call in air strikes or request ammo and weapons by pressing a series of d-pad related sequences (up, up, right, left, down for instance) that make you concentrate that little bit harder when under fire. With everyone working together the game comes into its own as I believe this is the key to this game becoming a true great. The worlds are beautifully created, the graphics are great as you leave little footprints on sand encrusted planets or wade through waist deep swamps, the mechanics really work and I was loving the multiplayer where the solo game was leaving me frustrated.
The game sadly only had a few hundred players online but on full release i can easily see that reaching thousands, grab a handful of mates and lay waste to entire solar systems as you eat through the missions of which there are several including package retrieval, reactivating SAM sites or capturing strategic locations while constantly being attacked. I was reactivating a SAM site while a team member was firing a machine gun to stop the press of aliens while another was laying a defensive turret.
The gameplay is addictive and incredibly well done but beware a lot of things can kill you, your own grenades and defective turrets, team members shooting you in the back on purpose or by mistake, even while waiting for the extract shuttle it landed on me leaving me as a red smear across the planet. Once back safely on the flight deck which is the hub/menu system for selecting missions, multiplayer, handing in samples you can find on each planet and the armoury where you can change your sex, appeal and change/upgrade your weapons and perks via the upgrade points you earn through levelling up.
I recently discovered while curiosity got the better of me, that you can play on the keyboard/mouse, have someone play on a controller and unplugging my girlfriends controller you can actually have three people playing (probably four, as I ran out of stuff to plug-in) on one system which is an amazing idea, all your mates bring a controller round and all play at once. HELLDIVERS for me just keeps getting better with each small detail I discover, and for that reason I score this game 9/10, there is still room for improvement and it all hinges on how many people purchase it on the 7th December as I believe it’s been on the PlayStation network for a while. I just hope the flood gates will open as i really want to get into some serious multiplayer action with this game!
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