Resogun Review – Defender For A New Age

Do you like particles? Do you like explosions? Do you especially like apocalyptically sized explosions that fill the screen with a bazillion voxel particles? Well then, my friend, allow me to introduce you to a little game called Resogun.

Resogun makes the best case for buying a Playstation 4 at launch, and then not actually buying any games with it. Not only is this arcadey space shooter the most fun to be had with an exclusive title at launch, but it’s also a freebie for Playstation Plus members. But if, for whatever reason, you’re still not sold on Playstation Plus, the game is still a bargain at its standard $15 price tag.

Resogun
Platform: Playstation 4 (Reviewed)
Developer: Housemarque
Publisher: Sony
Release Date: Nov. 15, 2013
MSRP: $15.00

Developed by Housemarque, the same studio that brought us the stellar Super Stardust games, Resogun is basically a modern reimagining of the classic arcade game Defender. At its core, the game is a dual-stick shooter in which your spaceship moves along a two-dimensional plane, blowing up enemy ships, avoiding showers of red dots, and rescuing humans on the way.

Where Resogun starts to break away from its roots is in its level design. The action takes place on a cylindrical loop, as opposed to a strictly flat 2D plane. This is helpful not only because it lets you see enemies far in advance, but also because it allows you to keep an eye out for special “Keeper” enemies, who must be killed quickly before they disappear.

You see, a big part of Resogun’s gameplay is the retrieval of humans who are locked in cages at the beginning of each level. Every now and then, you’ll be notified of the arrival of Keepers. By killing the entire group of these glowing green baddies, you’ll unlock a human from its cage somewhere in the level. Retrieving a human and then depositing it in one of two safe zones will reward the player with a random bonus, whether it be an extra life, a bomb, a shield, or extra points.

It should be noted that this is all optional. The only requirement for beating a level is simply destroying all of the enemies in each of the three phases, and then defeating the boss at the end. But players looking to truly master Resogun and put up the high scores in arcade mode are definitely going to want to aim for rescuing all of the humans in each level, not only because of the rewards they offer, but also because of the substantial score boost they give at the end.

Going after humans can also be a risky venture, as rushing around the level is a surefire way to run into a stray bullet that you didn’t even see. Fortunately, your ship’s got a couple of tricks up its exhaust pipe to minimize that risk.

First is an awesome boost mechanic that not only does the expected job of making you go really fast, but also turns you into an unstoppable wrecking ball that explodes in a shockwave once the boost ends. This turns your boost into both a defensive tool to get you out of Dodge when the bullet hell swarm becomes too much to handle, as well as an offensive weapon to clear out hordes of enemies that are clustered together in one fell swoop. Needless to say, knowing how and when to use your boost is one of the most vital skills in Resogun.

Your other secret weapon is your Overdrive cannon. Once fully charged, the cannon shoots out an annihilating green beam that tears through enemies, leaving a voxel-filled wasteland in its wake. Overdrive is another great way to get out of a sticky situation, especially since time slows down a bit while using it.

There are five levels and only three ships in Resogun, which may seem pretty paltry, but with multiple difficulties that drastically change the enemies you face in each level, you’ll still get plenty of mileage out of Resogun’s highly replayable levels.

As for the three ships, while they may not seem very different if you just look at their stats, the small differences actually go a long way in changing how each are played. For example, the Nemesis ship is able to rely on a very lengthy boost, which makes it ideal for using boost as a weapon to sweep up long strings of enemies. The trade-off is that its primary weapon is the weakest of the three, despite having very useful homing missiles.

The Phobos ship, on the other hand, has a short boost, but can utterly wreck an entire enemy fleet with its lengthy overdrive. It also has a very strong, albeit slower-firing, primary weapon, which carries splash damage as well.

Resogun also sports online cooperative play, and while it’s nice that it was included, this isn’t the kind of game that is enhanced in any way by having a second player helping out. There’s no real teamwork aspect, you don’t share lives, and ultimately, it feels like two people playing their own separate games in the same level, just with the added potential issue of lag.

No, by itself Resogun isn’t a reason to go out and buy a Playstation 4 at launch, but much like Geometry Wars was for the Xbox 360, it’s an extremely fun and addictive arcade shoot-em-up that is actually more worth your time than any of the hotly anticipated full-priced launch titles. Whether it be by signing up for Playstation Plus, or shelling out the $15 asking price, Resogun is a game that belongs in every PS4 owner’s collection.

Pros:

  • Fast-paced, addictive, old-school arcade shoot-em-up action
  • Despite not being a graphical showcase of what the PS4 can do, still a very beautiful game
  • Awesome boost mechanic that turns your speed into both a vital defensive tool and deadly weapon
  • Three well-differentiated ships that each present a different play style
  • Rescuing humans provides a refreshing optional objective that introduces a risk vs. reward factor into an otherwise simple game of survival

Cons:

  • If you’re not the type of gamer who looks to continuously improve and climb leaderboards, you might not get a lot of mileage out of Resogun
  • Online cooperative play can be kind of laggy and the game isn’t really suited for it

Final Score: 85/100


Read more of Mitchell Saltzman’s work here, and follow him and Game Front on Twitter: @GameFrontMitch and @gamefrontcom.

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