XBLA Hors D’oeuvres: Aces of the Galaxy
Yes, XBLA Hors D’oeurvres are back. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re simply a weekly feature where I play the latest Xbox Live Arcade game – in trial form – for no more than 10 minutes, and then summarize my impressions of the game based only upon that.
Right off the bat, I wasn’t particularly enamored with Aces of the Galaxy. It’s an on-rails space shooter that seems to have about as much strategy as those web games where you see how many times you can click your left mouse button in ten seconds. The trial lets you try the game’s first two levels; after I was through with the first (which took around four or five minutes), I was dreading another level.
But around halfway through the second level, I found myself genuinely enjoying the game. It wasn’t like the game suddenly become more sophisticated; it was more that I had let go the expectation of something more sophisticated and was able to enjoy the game for what it was.
Of course, some people might not be able to do that or they simply might not enjoy a game where your objective is to blow the crap out of everything. It’s essentially a third-person, 3D Galaga shooting gallery. Before each game, you’ll get a mission briefing of sorts, as some sort of alien thing will talk about how they’re going to crush you. Lame seems like an understatement; one of the lines was literally, “You know in your blood-regulating organ you cannot win.” I’m not even going to say anything. I don’t think it’s needed. It speaks for itself.
It’s such so terrible. God.
So while you won’t find the story to be particularly gripping (or have any semblance of anything decent or good), that’s just not what this game is about. Everything looks good, and flying through an asteroid belt with mines scattered throughout can be pretty intense. The whole goal is to get as high of a score as you possibly can, so I wish there were level-specific leaderboards rather than just for your total score. It’s not a big gripe, but it would’ve added something for those who aren’t good enough to make it all the way through the game’s 25 levels.
Aces does some unnecessary things with its “temporal shift” feature, which is just a fancy name for slow-mo. Maybe it becomes a useful tool later in the game when you need to hit an enemy in a specific spot, but from what I saw in the trial, it’s only in the game because it sounded good on paper.
With co-op multiplayer but on- and offline, I can see the value of the game for $10. Judging from the fun I had playing for ten minutes, this is an ideal game to pick up when you have a few minutes to spare, unlike other XBLA games like Penny Arcade Adventures or Rez. It’s not for everyone, but old Galaga fans and people who enjoy blowing spaceships up should get a kick out of Aces of the Galaxy.