At first glance, I too first thought this was just another standard top-down co-operative shooter to play with your friends. But there’s more to this game that meets the eye, to an extent.
Set in the year 2186, Spareware drops you directly into a world of robots with the ultimate aim of saving the world. After this brief discovery, you are put straight into the game and the endless battles begin. That’s as far as the story really goes to be honest, it’s not the most expansive of games when it comes to narrative. But this is no surprise with it being a top-down co-operative shooter. Despite being light on story however, Spareware makes up for it somewhat in its gameplay.
The core gameplay is very simple, but because of this it works well. With the constant onslaught of enemies heading your way, you’re never short of action. Like most top-down shooters, you move with the left analog stick and aim with the right. Shooting is as simple as using the triggers. Additional perks can be used also though adding variety to the game and making it easier to take down enemies.
However, one of the main things that particularly surprised me was the variety of character customisation. There are many different aspects of your robot that you can alter. These include changing your weaponry and the whole design of your robot. The customisation parts can be found by simply unlocking them or finding them within levels that you play. This adds another objective within the levels making it more than just your classic top-down shooter. And I thought this was a great simple addition to the game.
In addition to collecting parts, every level has an objective. These can involve collecting particular items, destroying a certain thing or simply finishing the level. This again adds variety to each level so that you’re not simply just shooting down endless enemies. Saying that, doing exactly that is also fun too. After completing these levels, you can level up your robot with ability points. These ability points can be spent on either active or passive perks. Passive perks include classics such as increased health where as active perks have more of an effect on enemies. These include mines and the ability to set your own drones on the enemy.
One of the drawbacks of this game I felt was the lack of environment variety. There really isn’t much change in aesthetic map design in the levels as you can see from the images. The layout changes so that you’re not playing identical maps, but the scenery remains the same throughout. In addition to this the music is also very repetitive with the same loop being played over and over. The music does suit what is happening, but it became annoying very quickly.
There was something that really stood out to me as a major fault in the game. And that was the use of friendly fire. I really don’t understand why the developers decided to implement friendly fire into a game like this. If you play four-player co-op, which the game is particularly made for, and you are being charged at by an endless amount of enemies, the last thing you want to be worried about is whether you are going to hit your companions. At first I just thought it would make the game a little more tactical, but by the end it was just an unnecessary annoyance.
Spareware certainly shines with its use of customisation, there’s no doubt there. And the gameplay is simplistic enough that I would be very shocked if it did not work. The simple narrative can be forgiven because I don’t believe people play top-down shooters for the story. However, the lack of level design and the use of friendly fire really held the rating back for me. The lack of level design caused the game to become very boring quite quickly and the friendly fire made co-op frustrating. If these two things weren’t present, my final verdict would have been rather higher.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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