is composed of a series of levels (20+) located in outer space in which you guide your spaceship to destroy the strewn out obstacles. Sound familiar? It should. After one of our own spoke with a designer at Coreplay
, the overall sense of the game seemed to be a next generation Asteroids – and I definitely felt that this claim held water.
What is next generation about this shooter is mostly due to the weaponry. You aren’t exactly fully equipped when you enter each stage, but you will instead have to collect ion particles to shoot out at your enemies – hence, Ion Assault
. The strength of your shot will depend on how much you charge your weapon with the particles, but a fully charged ship will result in heavier movement. This mode of weapon has its advantages as well as its disadvantages of which you will have to recognize in order to wield properly. Of course, we wouldn’t want things to be too easy, so I appreciated the tact with which you have to make decisions as to how and when to use the particles. As Chuck noted in his preview
, cornering your enemies will allow you to recollect the same particles more efficiently as they bounce back to you from the barriers, ensuring death rather than just damage. After gathering the ion particles, you will also notice that they can be used as a sort of shield. This will only hold up against weaker enemies or obstacles and still need to be maneuvered skillfully – there are many close, but no cigar moments.
The ion particles aren’t just useful for battling; I also found them to be an interesting addition to the visuals. You’ll find bright and glowing colors all about the screen, of which the particles are most certainly a part of. The imminent entrance of an enemy is signified by a glowing circle of a different color, and many of the enemies themselves will be adorned with glowing colors. Depending on the color of your “avatar” that you choose from the get-go, the main colors in the game will change, as well. For instance, the streams of color that move across the screen to collect your points can be pink, green, blue, etc.
The levels progress slowly in difficulty, giving you time to adjust to the new enemies that each stage offers. At times you will notice an onslaught of objects and enemies coming forth at you, and will result in a true test of your maneuvering abilities. Enemies come in different forms (check the site
for a full list), some more difficult to overcome than others. There are mines, bug looking aliens, other spaceships with different abilities, lasers, and of course the ultimate bosses that include a combination of a few of these enemies. You might find yourself trading in tactic for sheer luck when faced with this horde of enemies. If you have some sort of odd cat-like response system like yours truly, you might not feel completely overwhelmed. Even so, I myself had difficulty in even recognizing what was going on at times. Fortunately, you are not left completely alone when chaos hits: the best method of dealing with the onslaught of enemies is utilizing the power-ups provided on each level.
There are different forms of power-ups that help switch up the gameplay style. Chuck’s favorite was the Gravity Well, but I was a personal fan of the Vortex. Probably the easiest way to deal with an overwhelming amount of activity on your screen, the Vortex will blast enemies within a radius by gathering mass amounts of particles and sucking them into the vortex. It is quite the satisfying sight. These power-ups are useful in a tight spot: Chromo will slow the scene down, Seeking Drones are bombs that will actively hunt your enemies, Gravity Well helps you collect particles, and Plasma Torus will create swirls of ion particles in your location to help protect you.
While there did seem to be a good amount of emphasis on tactical gameplay, some boss rounds were a bit boring. It was like figuring out the Easter bunny isn’t real – there are ways around having to think out a game plan if you catch on to the boss’s attack and movement patterns. From there it’s just a matter of patience and repetition.
The sound effects and music were what you would expect: space-like. Sound effects are important to listen for because you don’t have a full view of each level at all times. Enemies have particular corresponding sound effects – including when they first enter the level – and while they seemed to be cute at first, I have to admit their existence wasn’t so pleasant when they wouldn’t die. Desperately avoiding the fast Tau Ceti Seeker that darts at you at incredible speeds, I will run into a Tau Ceti Mine and their alert starts to feel like a laugh in my face: “Escape is futile!” Ok, they don’t actually say that.
Nevertheless, if you're a chaotic shoot 'em up fan, Ion Assault
will probably be right up your gaming alley. The myriad of diverse enemies definitely keep gameplay interesting, and the multiplayer option should tide you over even after your completion of the game.
Ion Assault is tricky and fun. Rife with pleasant colors and sounds, the game was an enjoyable shoot ‘em up experience with diversity in the form of enemies and power-ups. Stages can at times feel repetitive, and only amount to about 20+ levels. At playtime under 3 hours the game might not feel worth it, but there is the added pleasure of a co-op experience.
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