Tag Archives: shooter

Blasters of the Universe review (PSVR)

Wave-based shooters are a dime a dozen on PSVR, so why should you invest in another one? If you’ve played one then you’ve played them all, right?…Wrong. Thanks to Blasters of the Universe’s high quality, compelling action, and customisations options galore it stands out from the crowd…oh and then there’s the bullet-hell.

After the novelty of a new VR wave-based arena has worn off, I rarely returned for more but Blasters of the Universe nails that “just one more go” vibe. The style of the game sits somewhere between Blood Dragon and Tron. The self-proclaimed bullet-hell shooter paints the story of an arcade champ whose fame has gone to his head and he becomes fully digitised into the world he loves, challenging the next wannabe champion to best his creations.

The four wave-based worlds demand a variety of skills to be mastered, from being a crack shot to side-stepping and ducking the torrent of incoming fire that will ultimately be flung your way. Each world is climaxed with a boss battle, which forces you to mix up your tactics in order to grind down their health bar, and in terms of difficulty, normal mode has its moments but is a fairly easy going romp through VR bullet-hell. Hell mode however, can get pretty intense.

Despite having a portable shield you will inevitably need to keep on the move. With only five hearts of health you can end up becoming derezzed pretty quickly if you don’t keep your head on a swivel. It really puts you on your toes. Despite ducking and diving, which I’ll admit to picking up quite the sweat, the PSVR unit didn’t mist up – a real testament to the build quality of the headset.

Blasters of the Universe’s world is bright and vibrant – full of arcade tropes and neon blemishes – it looks great, and the experience of a tunnel of bullets passing around your head is pretty darn cool. Thankfully the devs have seen fit to only make your head the ‘hit area’ so you needn’t worry about your arms or the blaster your wield, this makes the prospect of surviving far less daunting.

The blaster itself is an odd construction of random parts that wouldn’t look out of place in the world of Fallout. Once unlocked, you can mix and match a variety parts to construct a blaster that suits your play style. From magazines that recharge, to barrels that fire more rapidly, there are tons of combinations that can be assembled and tested within the armoury.

A timed challenge mode resets periodically with new objectives, which will keep returning fans hooked, while those addicted to the intensity of gameplay will undoubtedly want to better their scores in the campaign, best the hell difficulty or just see how long they can survive in endless mode. Beyond that there is a limited amount of gameplay with only four worlds to choose from.

I was super impressed by the response of the PSVR. I could duck down low and still pull off an accurate shot. I could dance about like a loony, dodging multiple bullets and not find that my PSVR had misted up. But most of all, I had a lot of fun. Blasters of the Universe has nailed bullet hell VR, but it’s a shame more couldn’t have been made of the story, which I found extremely lacking – especially considering the premise of the title.

Wave-based nasties, boss battles, challenge modes and a whole host of customisation options, Blasters of the Universe is easy on the eye and will entice you with its soft approach but snare your attention for hours on end.

Thanks to Wonacott Communications, LLC for supporting TiX

Let Them Come review

There’s a scene in Aliens where the marines setup automatic turrets to shoot the approaching horde of aliens. In Let Them Come you essentially recreate that scene but as a gunner controlling a turret. It’s intense, a little scare despite the pixel art aesthetic, fun and challenging. It’s so very similar to that scene from Aliens, yet to my knowledge, this is the first time it’s been translated to a tower defence game, and it works marvellously.

It’s so very simple. A text introduction paints the picture of a lone soldier needing to setup his turret at different locations to figure out the story behind this alien infestation. It’s then a matter of you earning credits by shooting the aliens, buying upgrades for your character and the turret, then conquering multiple waves of aliens, defeating a boss, and moving on to the next location.

Pixel art conveys the action and gore. The narrow corridors with subtle animations in the background, foreground and the sides bringing each scene to life. Silky smooth animations for your character’s movement as well as that of the many different alien species. It looks fantastic. In fact this art style is miraculous, and not just here but practically everywhere I see it. How these pixel artists capture a person, an alien, a location so beautifully and in such detail while shaping it in pixels is miraculous. Here it also works to add a level of nostalgia to the title, to manage your expectations for a simple game of tower defence. Indeed, it wouldn’t have been out of place as an official Aliens game from 1986, if it wasn’t for the exceptionally smooth frame rate, crisp well-defined pixels and copious amounts of alien hostiles and bullets filling the corridor that only modern system can truly handle at this level of quality.

There’s more to it than simply letting loose with your turret against the waves of aliens, though, and soon you’re contemplating precisely what you need to purchase between waves to best fight the horde; what the best tools are for this violent but necessary job of survival. You can only hold limited ammo types and equipment, and choosing the right combination becomes more and more critical as the waves progress.

Four slots can be filled with passive upgrades, these being buffs to health, or armour against projectiles, cooling vents for the turret, and several more which affect your character’s ability to fight off the waves. Meanwhile, two slots are available for personal equipment, these consisting of melee weapons, grenades and other useful offensive of defensive items. Moreover, there’s a wide selection of different types of grenades that perform better against different species or quantities of aliens. Finally, there’s the two slots for ammo type for the turret, these being the standard ammo, of which you have an infinite amount, and the special ammo types, that run the gamut much like the grenades do. Bullets for the special ammo types need to be bought and used wisely to deal with waves. Indeed, there are many factors to consider when it comes to purchasing these weapons and equipment that will affect your survival rate.

As you defeat waves and progress, more is revealed. Boss creatures test your ability to adapt at the end of each location, providing a stiff challenge that requires you to equip yourself smartly. Meanwhile, power-ups are earned that can provide some much needed boosts to ammo, health, score, or even enhances you and your firepower temporarily. Fortunately, defeat isn’t the end, you are free to restart the wave having kept any credits earned so to spend them more wisely and maybe prevail next time. Additionally, much of the purchasable equipment can be upgraded once you’ve moved to a new location, always giving you something to spend your hard earned credits on, and soon proving crucial to keeping you alive as larger waves attack and new alien species throw something unexpected at you. Let Them Comes certainly keeps you on your toes.

Despite the challenge, however, it doesn’t take long to reach the end, and for some the frustration of overcoming the challenge is going to be too much. Afterwards you can play through again at different difficulty levels, as well as compete for high scores, but your mileage will vary depending on your patients and love of the genre and art style. Although, the time you do spend with this exhilarating and delightful tower defence title is certainly well wasted.

Thanks to Xbox and Versus Evil for supporting TiX

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition review

It’s not often that I’ll play a first-person shooter other than Halo. It’s even less often that it’s a re-imagining of a title that was first released on the Xbox 360. Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition from People Can Fly is one such game.

Bulletstorm isn’t usually the type of title I’d pick up. Not because I don’t like first person shooters, more the fact that I’m not a massive fan of being led around by the nose. I’m much more of an exploration kind of shooter fan than scripted paths and direction. That being said, I went into Bulletstorm with an open mind, especially as I’d not played the initial Xbox 360 release from 2011. I was pleasantly surprised.

Taking place in the 26th Century, Bulletstorm sees you take the role of Grayson Hunt. Grayson is the leader of Dead Echo, a covert hit squad under the direct command of Star General Sarrano of the Confederation of Planets. Sarrano, unsurprisingly, uses Dead Echo to clean up some of his dirty work, and, learning this, Grayson and his team desert. They become Space Pirates and ten years on, encounter Sarrano’s cruiser, the Ulysses, ramming it over the planet Stygia. Your story is taken up from there on in.

Initially, you have a few tasks to perform to save the life of team member Ishi Sato. Ishi was critically wounded during the crash and has been repaired by the damaged ship’s medical systems using cybernetic and robotic components. The AI on this repair is rather aggressive, however, turning Ishi into something of a loose cannon. During the initial search for power, you find an Instinct Leash.

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This device is an interactive energy whip and tactical points-scoring system. The more kills that Grayson performs, in the most creative manner, the more points that you will earn. More points equals more ammunition and weapon upgrades as you progress through the game.

The weapons that Grayson has access to range in type and effectiveness. The weapon select allows you to choose between the primary automatic rifle and two secondary weapons. Choosing wisely could mean the difference between progressing on to the next chapter, or dying a horrible death at the hands of the local hybrid-mutant population of nuclear-winter crazies. You have good selection of combat weapons to choose from. From  a magnum-type pistol  to an explosive tipped flail chain launcher, there should be fun for everyone in the loadouts.

The loadouts are accessed through the Instinct Leash communicating your kill-score to drop-kits. You can choose to upgrade the weapons in your arsenal and purchase more ammo, but in truth, you’ll probably max out your ammo as there are so many crazies around, you’ll be buried in spent casings.

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Importantly, the weapons are fun to use. There’s nothing worse than finding out that the firepower at your disposal is drab and lifeless, or worse still, ineffective. The standard automatic rifle does feel slightly underpowered though, and you can find yourself emptying clip after clip into certain enemy types before you try something else. The Instinct Leash allows you to get creative too. You can use it to whip enemies from behind cover towards you or into hazards like giant spikes, electrical wires or hungry plants. This can rack up your points and can be a source of amusement as you whip them towards you and give them a hefty boot away while trying to take their head off with a well-placed bullet.

There are a number of local mutant types that will come at you without hesitation as well. There’s no sneaking around trying to avoid conflict in this one, its full-on, in your face violence here. Once these are out of the way, by whatever means you have at your disposal, hell, even kick them off a platform, they will drop something useful, like a small amount of ammo. You can even use the Instinct Leash to pick that up if you’re desperate.

As you make your way to specific locations throughout the ravaged city, using a pre-defined path, you will eventually come up against a heavier boss battle before progressing to the next Act or Chapter. These will sometimes involve a little more of the story being revealed or occasionally, will suggest something other than a professional relationship blooming between Grayson and Ishi. Odd.

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Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition has had a graphics update by all accounts, although not having played the original, I wouldn’t be in a position to comment on the differences. It also provides the Overkill Campaign mode, granting immediate access to all of the available weapons as well as six new Echo maps. There is also a great Duke Nukem’s Bulletstorm Tour DLC available with voice clips from Jon St.John himself.

The voice-acting in Bulletstorm is OK. It won’t win the game any awards and some of the dialogue is pretty cheesy, but it helps to keep the game, and more importantly the story, clipping along at a fair old pace, and there’s plenty to keep you entertained throughout. There are several hours of gameplay in the story alone and with multiplayer, Overkill and the Duke Nukem optional DLC, there’s enough to keep you seriously entertained for a long time to come. With all of that in mind, is there anything I don’t really like about Bulletstorm Full Clip Edition?

Well, I can’t help but feel that it’s all a bit samey. The mutants either come at you in some sort of suicidal frenzy or they hide and try to pick you off, making a swift Leashing inevitable. There’s little variation in the attacks or the way you end up defeating the hordes of nutters trying to end your existence. There’s no health indicator either. Take too much damage, and to be fair Grayson can take a lot, and the edges of your HUD turn red until you hide for a bit of time. This can be irritating of you’re in the middle of an important boss fight.

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On the whole, Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition lives up to the hype of the original release. The graphics are futuristically gory in a good way and most things are pretty well animated. The story keeps you engaged throughout and the voice-acting, while not Oscar-worthy, is good enough to get you through the cheesy dialogue. Save for repetitive waves of attacks and being led around a specific route to your goal, the game is well worth picking up to add to your collection.

Thanks to People Can Fly and Xbox for supporting TiX

Hunter: Call of the Wild coming to Xbox One

Hunter: Call of the Wild see’s you exploring 50 square miles of terrain in order to hunt and kill one of natures trophies. I know the subject of hunting is often a controversial one however in Call of the Wild you can do it guilt free. All the footage in the trailer has been filmed directly from the game engine and it looks spectacular. Developers Expansive Worlds have really pushed the boat to bring an immersive and gorgeous world.

Hunter: Call of the Wild also offers a multiplayer option where you can complete challenges but also hunt your prey as a team. To be an effective hunter you need the tools and the skills, these can be developed as you progress and gives you the ability to learn scents and calls of animals to make capturing your prey that little bit more satisfying.

Hunter: Call of the Wild is set for release at some point in 2017 so keep a sharp eye out for that one.

Utter Carnage as Butcher is set for Xbox One

Butcher is a fast paced 2D action shooter developed by Transhuman Design. Butcher is clearly a nod to past cult classics, you play a cyborg with one mission and one mission alone, to eradicate humanity.

The 8-bit approach is already a winner but the trailer sets it off with that B-Movie gorefest voice over. Butcher isn’t available just yet but is set to land somewhere in Q2 of 2017

 

BUTCHER’s main features:

  • Ultra-violent uncompromising carnage in the spirit of Doom and Quake (chainsaw included)
  • Release your inner artist, paint the walls with (permanent) blood (up to 4 million pixels available to be painted per level)
  • Use the environment (saws, hooks, lava pits, animals and other) to brutally dispose of your enemies
  • Put your reflex and patience to the ultimate test
  • Choose from an array of weapons (featuring classics like chainsaw, railgun and the deadly grenade launcher)
  • Soak in the dark atmosphere reinforced by a wicked, heavy soundtrack (while you kick corpses around)
  • Die painfully: melt in lava, become piranha food, get crushed by heavy doors… and more!
  • Absolutely no mercy for anyone!

Ubisoft release Ghost Recon Wildlands TV Spot ‘Ruthless’

Ubisoft have released their TV Spot for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, entitled “Ruthless”. This action-packed piece has been directed by the legendary John McTiernan (Die Hard, Predator) depicts the Ghosts’ first mission in Bolivia, where they will try to take down the Santa Blanca cartel.

This TV Spot is not the first work by John McTiernan for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, having also directed the unique Red Dot live trailer, released earlier this year and which revealed an interesting relationship between a red dot, a cat and… Cartel members. While Red Dot shows the merciless efficiency of the Ghosts, Ruthless shows the cruelty of the Cartel.

You can watch Red Dot below:

Players will be able to take on the Cartel themselves from today as the Open Beta for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands is now live until February 27th. This Open Beta introduces players to two provinces from amongst the 21 available in the game: Itacua, a flourishing and mountainous region, where the grip of the cartel is looser, allows players to perfect their sniping skill and become acquainted to the Wildlands. Montuyoc, set in the snowy Altiplano and the second province available in this Open Beta, is much more challenging as it hosts Santa Blanca elite training centres.

8DAYS review

8DAYS is infuriating. Every step is dangerous, every fight hard fought, and every weapon precious. Indeed, 8DAYS’ mix of twin-stick shooting, bullet hell and stealth is an intriguing and highly challenging hybrid of genres that often feels insurmountable but is oh so satisfying when you overcome it. It’s the best kind of infuriating.

You are an elite mercenary working for the private military company G.O.D Inc. (Gold, Oil and Diamonds), undergoing operations all over the world to serve your outfit’s clients the best you can. This means murder, mayhem, and war mongering. It makes for a nice change, playing in the mud a little, with no clear heroes and villains just different shades of grey. Of course, a story of betrayal and conspiracies soon unfolds around you, but for the most part it simply facilitates new locations for you to struggle through against superior numbers and weaponry.

Equipment is OSP (on-site procurement) with only two slots available to you. Rocks, guns, knives, rocket launchers and more can be picked up and utilised against your enemies, allowing you to brutally bludgeon, shoot, slice and blow-up those that stand in your way. It’s a bloodthirsty and vicious existence serving as a mercenary, but a necessary one, drop your guard and you won’t be returning home in one piece.

Enemies will react lightning fast to your presence, sending a hail of bullets your way, not dissimilar to a bullet hell shooter, or chasing you with their massive knives where one hit can kill you. Even some of the local fauna will attack on site and ruin your day. Furthermore, you can fall off cliffs and fall in rivers, making awareness of your surroundings a crucial skill. It often feels like everything is out to kill you, and it’s equally exhilarating and terrifying, thanks largely to how insanely fast the action is and how easy it is to die.

Fortunately, progress can be broken down into screens. Each time you reach the edge of a screen and move to a new area it acts as a checkpoint. This allows you to break down the challenge into chunks, and once you figure out the troop placement for a particular screen, you can begin to work your way through it, engaging groups individually, skirting round them entirely, or just running for the edge in a mad dash. It’s completely up to you, and each screen is large enough to provide some tactical options, allowing you to make progress through multiple styles of play.

You’re sent on multiple operations with each one offering an entirely different location and set of enemies to overcome. There’s some nice variety here, whether it’s outdoors in a dusty desert or lush forest, or inside an advanced facility. All of which are superbly designed to provide multiple paths to your objective, or large screen where you can choose your method of engagement. Midway through an operation you’ll face a mini-boss, testing your reactions and accuracy thoroughly, then at the end of each operation another boss will challenge you. These encounters offer a mix of threatening and quirky opponents, in line with the action parody tone of the game. They’re delightfully deranged and dangerous.

It can certainly get frustrating when you fail to get past a screen multiple times (see my video), or can’t figure out the best path forwards, but with each screen offering a discrete challenge and a checkpoint, perseverance will eventually get you through. And it’s cleverly designed to make the frustrations as fleeting as possible. Bringing a second player along for the ride in local coop often turns the frustrating into hilarious shared disasters, and the stunning pixel art portrays the blood, gore and murder in a rather fetching way. Sure it’s challenging, but it’s also fun, funny and compelling enough to keep you playing.

Thanks to Xbox and Badland Games for supporting TiX

Nearly time to Rise and Shine

Developers Adult Swim Games and Super Awesome Hyper Dimensional Mega Team have released a launch trailer for their new title Rise and Shine. Adult Swim Games have been known to release little quirky games, Rise and Shine looks like it’s keeping that theme in a side scrolling puzzle type shooter. Check the trailer below.

As you can probably tell right from the start Adult Swim Games don’t take themselves too seriously and this comes across in the light hearted trailer. Usually in situations like this you will see a launch trailer and then forget about until something triggers your memory when it’s released months down the line, well not in the case of Rise and Shine because it is out tomorrow. Yes that’s right you have to wait hours for it. Rise and Shine will be available on Xbox on the 13th of January 2017, lets hope that day being a Friday doesn’t put an omen on what looks to be a fun and hilarious title.

Keep your eyes peeled on TiX for a full review of Rise and Shine coming soon.

 

Blue Rider review

Every now and then something comes along that is so simple, intuitive and fun that it could quickly become a classic. Blue Rider is just that. Argentinian developer, Ravegan, have created something with enough nostalgic charm, cute visuals and pick up and play accessibility to grip you throughout it’s short experience, and it’s great.

From the second I launched the game is was clear that there are no frills. You got the obligatory developer screen, a short animation of the title, then that was it, straight into it. There was nothing in the way of extended menus, shop links, DLC teasers, nothing, just simple ‘start game’ and ‘menu’. There is only one level available at the start, the others being greyed out, that’s OK though because it makes the objective nice and clear. You play the part of a small spaceship with a basic weapon. The enemies initially are quite easy, their fire rate is low and pretty ineffective but that doesn’t last forever. The tried and tested twin sticks controls makes Blue Rider intuitive, with movement and firing feeling natural. If I had one little gripe about the movement it’s that at times it takes a while to change direction, due to the way your ship glides, making it feel a little unresponsive, especially while dodging the enemy. This is me being picky though, because it’s not a major concern it’s just how it is and something I got used too.

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Graphically the levels are gorgeous, if you’re a frames per second fan then this won’t disappoint, as I saw no drops or glitches at all. That being said you won’t take much notice of the scenery as there are enough enemies and projectiles to keep your attention on the objective and not the leaves on the trees. It’s a cartoony aesthetic but it looks great, maintaining the same level of quality throughout the different locations each level covers.

The objective is clear: blow everything up to be able to move on, no confusion there. There are gates and doors that you can’t access unless you have cleared stages, but this doesn’t mean that you are endlessly searching for the one stubborn enemy that chose to camp it out, because the levels aren’t that big. There are more than enough enemies to focus your attention on though, and hidden away in the corners are collectibles that add a little more to each stage. However, the focus still relies on out manoeuvring the opposition to get your shot on target. There is the ability to upgrade your weapons as you go on, they stay with you too, which after reviewing another title recently where that doesn’t happen, makes a nice change.

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The levels are well-designed with paths leading out to open spaces. A world map would have been a bonus but it’s not the end of the world that it doesn’t exist. At times you are faced with a bottle neck and a swarm of enemies at the other end, which creates a good excuse for spam firing as much as you can. Pickups are rare, this doesn’t help when your HP bar depletes as you fail to dodge bullets, so keeping your wits about you is important. At the end of each level is the boss, this is the only real place where you could get frustrated. There aren’t any moments before a boss fight where you suddenly come across power-ups and health, so you’re fighting with what you’ve got. The boss has mechanics and patterns that take some getting used to, and guess what? you don’t have lives or checkpoints. When you die it’s back to the beginning of the level, and whilst the levels may be fairly brief, it can get a little frustrating. So purely for the no lives system I’m knocking 0.5 off my overall score, yep I’ve thrown my teddy out the pram. Thankfully, in Blue Riders defence, it’s not a major task getting to the boss and next time you may have a better power-up, so it can be forgiven for that little detail.

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With the game only having ten levels, it doesn’t take long to see all that’s on offer, especially as it’s a joy to play. Its simple approach has proven to be one of Blue Rider’s strong points, with the ability to pick it up and play without any fuss definitely feeling refreshing and something I will go back to time and time again. No news on any DLC though, which is a shame but less is more sometimes.

Thanks to Xbox and Ravegan for supporting TiX

Stardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax review

As you get older in life certain experiences thrust you into a state of nostalgia, more so when your hobby is videogames. Some of the best games in history follow a formula, and I challenge anyone’s top five not to include a side scrolling 2D shooter. Finland’s Vasara Entertainment have released Stardust Galaxy Warriors: Stellar Climax and this follows this formula, and follows it well.

Stardust Galaxy Warriors is a fast paced 1-4 player co-op game that tests your reactions and patience. The game has a loose RPG element to it and takes it’s aesthetic inspiration from Japanese anime. There are few different modes but the campaign mode and gauntlet mode are enough to keep you busy. I mainly played the campaign mode, which is 30 stages set across ten different environments that throw a variety of enemy types and massive bosses at you.

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You can choose between four characters that are essentially the same but with a different signature power weapon. Once you’re happy with your character and their weapon’s load-out you are then expected to plough through waves and waves of enemies to reach the boss at the end. Your arsenal ranges from small rapid fire weapons to larger, slower but more devastating cannons. Each player’s signature is basically a panic button for when things get too much. Once you activate it you then get a few seconds to compose yourself and dig in to the rest of the stage.

There is a vague story-line playing in the background but it’s easy to become completely detached from it when your main aim is pure survival. Like any of these types of games, your score is important. Once you have finished the level you can then upgrade certain aspects of your character using currency based on your score. Your upgrades include armour, speed and damage.

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Everything in your arsenal is available from the start meaning there is no grinding to get the better weapons, however, to really upgrade your character you will need to unlock the perks for a better survival chance when things get hectic. The core gameplay can also be customised by increasing enemy amount, rate of fire and power-ups, which is a nice touch if you’re not satisfied with the already seizure inducing moments on offer by default.

Stardust Galaxy Warriors is fast paced and with more than one player on screen be ready to get lost and confused should your concentration lapse for a second. Every enemy fires multiple projectiles at you in a constant stream, meanwhile, you’ll be following suit with your own hail of fire, leading the screen to become very messy indeed. Once you reach the boos they follow a set sequence of attacks, which are easy enough to learn but sometimes they throw in a random attack that can throw you off your guard.

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My only real gripe would be the power-ups, games such as R-Type gave you power-ups that you can keep until your demise, however, these are timed and you only have them for a short period. You can unlock a perk that allows you to keep the power-ups longer but they are ultimately still temporary. Stardust Galaxy Warriors is a beautiful looking game with a fast paced techno inspired soundtrack, with all the on screen chaos thrown in you know this isn’t going to be a relaxing affair. I was completely hooked, and like I said at the beginning, this brings back so many memories of tirelessly ploughing through enemies to defeat a super difficult boss at the end, repeating the phrase “Just one more go” after every death. Stardust Galaxy Warriors is available on the Xbox store now and definitely worth a go.

Thanks to Xbox and Dreamloop Games for supporting TiX