Project Root preview

I love a good old fashioned shoot ‘em up. I was brought up on a gaming diet of Battle Squadron, Xenon 2, R-Type & S.W.I.V. They were the pinnacle of vehicle-based shooters back in the day and were complimented by a whole host of others that I could mention, and probably will during the course of this preview. It’s not often we get to run a preview, but thankfully, OPQAM and Reverb Triple XP believe in getting the product right for release, so invited us and others I suspect, to preview this incoming SHMUP.

Project Root is an open world, mission-based Shoot ‘em up that has me in mind of those shooters of old that I so loved. The backstory is simple enough, there is a huge, ruthless mega-corporation that has, in the course of it’s pillaging of the planet, razed your town to the sand. As a result you, Lance Rockport, have joined Arcturus, a rebel group looking to wreak havoc on the all-powerful Prometheus Corp.

To do this, you’re given an advanced ship to pilot. The F-72 Zonda. This multi-directional, upgradeable flying war-machine should be more than a match for anything Demetrio Watts and his minions can throw at you, right? Well, that depends on your skill at the controls and your accuracy behind the crosshairs.

Taking the ship in mind, it reminds me of the Decepticon fighter craft from the recent Transformers films. It’s small and light but well armoured and will turn on a sixpence to unleash the pain in numerous ways. It’s upgradeable and fast, with ground attack as well as air-to-air assault. Your enemies are ships of a similar design and agility, tanks and anti-aircraft missile batteries. These can take multiple hits to destroy, all the while, they’re taking aim at you.

Project Root will be getting eight massive free-roaming worlds to fly around in and if the preview is anything to go by, this will take some beating. The first world alone has multiple main objectives and side-missions to complete. Some of these are optional, and there are some surprises thrown in too.

The controls so far are very intuitive. One stick flies your Zonda, the other allows you to point it the specific directions. This allows a good strafe method and that aforementioned turn on that shiny sixpence. The triggers fire your ground-aimed and air-to-air weapons with a bumper to let off whatever special weapon you managed to pick up on the way. Oh, did I mention the dropped power-ups? There are 4 to collect, and while you can only hold and use one at a time, they are useful in their own ideal situation.

In this preview, which the developer is keen to stress is by no means finished, the heads up display is uncluttered. The health bar is tucked away nicely, but the radar, which should be important, is a little out of the way and distracts from the main area of destruction.

I mentioned the fact that I would probably be reeling off some older SHMUP’s. While the controls remind of some polygon classics like Zeewolf, I have to say, Project Root reminds me greatly of an Amiga game called Desert Strike, which had a sequel, Jungle Strike. In fact, I’d go as far to say that currently, this is the Desert Strike for the future generation. If anything, on this release, I’d tweak the AI on the enemies, as they’re a little predictable, and your helpful assistant could use a little speech to stop you having to try to read through your instructions while taking enemy fire.

I’m looking forward to Project Root’s release, however, with great anticipation. The game is showing some remarkable promise and I for one welcome the emergence of more quality SHMUP’s on the Xbox One.

Project Root is released on the Xbox One on the 28th of April.