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Square Off Review

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by GaMeR, Jan 7, 2010.

  1. GaMeR

    GaMeR
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    Platform: Xbox Indie Games (Xbox 360)
    Price: 240 MSP / $3 USD
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    Take on waves of aliens either alone or with up to 3 other friends in this fun 2D shooter. Don't want to work together? Then blow the hell out of each other in death match!

    Gameplay:
    You along with some friends can take control of one of four differently colored square creatures that are all equipped with a jetpack, pistol, and a limited supply of bombs in order to kick some alien ass. Your objective is to survive as long as possible after defeating the alien boss found in each of the six levels which appears in the 5th wave. Once the boss has been defeated a prompt will appear asking you whether you'd like to move onto the next level or the next wave instead.
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    Square Off has an indicator found near the bottom of the screen notifying you of what wave you're currently in and about how many more aliens you need to kill (there's a bar that needs to be filled up). To fill the bar up quickly it's recommend to focus on killing all the aliens in the spaceships spawning more enemies as that will rack up your score as well. However, as you kill one, usually another ship spawns so don't get cornered in especially since you only have one life.

    These ships, just like your character, have a health meter. Unlike you however, they can't switch weapons nor even shoot back at all! So just keep your distance and they won't be able to harm you. Remember that they do spawn enemies though and if they happen to collide against you, health will be lost. Speaking of weapons, destroying these ships along with enemies in general will often result in a special weapon (rocket launcher, shotgun, multi-shot pistol, more bombs) or even a power-up (health, golden helmet, rocket boost) appearing. These weapons all have a limited supply of ammo unlike your pistol, so when the ammo begins to run out the blue bar over your character will become visible indicating how much ammo is left on each. Your health works in a similar matter, it will display once it's low. However, you can always force the game to show it by pressing the "Y" button. These items can also be found in special crates located in designated areas on each map. After a while a new crate will appear where the old one used to be. Aside from items, these crates can contain dead players as well (only while playing cooperatively).

    If cooperative play is not competitive enough, death match can played instead. However, unlike the main story it can't be played solo as there is no AI. There are several customizable options to make the match interesting such and 3 different arenas to fight in which are similar to the main story levels.

    Also, while on the subject of competitiveness, Square Off supports online leaderboards to make the survival aspect of the game much more competitive. Each level has it's own leaderboard for every amount of players as well. So the first level called "Lab" for instance, has 4 leaderboards, one for 1 player, another for 2 players and so on.

    Fun fact: The golden helmet absorbs 90% of inflicted damage making you almost invulnerable so don't be scared to confront enemies while you're wearing it, just make sure it doesn't wear off at the wrong moment...

    Stuck on the final boss? *SPOILER WARNING*
    Try to save up some special weapons before confronting the boss, the multi-shot pistol is recommended. While the boss is moving, shoot the red bottom portion of his ship while keeping a safe distance. Once you've eliminated that portion of his health, he'll strike again and regain some more health. At this point he'll spit out bomb-like enemies that will explode and inflict a lot of damage so it's highly important to keep a safe distance. You should only get really close if you have the golden helmet or a lot of health. Remember that the boss only spits out those bombs for a bit and then shoots the weaker lava shots, while he's shooting those weaker shots you should try to inflict the most damage.


    Graphics & Audio:
    The 2D graphics are quite solid especially the character/enemy sprites. The art style actually reminded me a lot of Castle Crashers although I'm sure the cooperative nature of the game also contributed to this. As for the backgrounds, while the game is in 2D, the backgrounds have a spectacular 3D effect. The sound effects were impressive for the most part as well. When you killed several enemies for instance, you heard a Quake-like voice saying multi-kill. In terms of music, the game features some nice lyric-free tracks that go well with the gameplay.

    Replay value:
    Due to the survival nature of the game, there is a lot of replay potential even solo especially due to the online leaderboards. However, to get the most fun out of Square Off it's recommended to play with others and as such the cooperative aspect of the game is sure to bring hours of fun. The death match mode is also another multiplayer option and is great for some competitive fun. Due to this, the game has fantastic replay value.

    Overall:
    While the concept behind the game is not groundbreaking in terms of innovation, it is fun. Not many XBLIG titles can boast such visuals and polished gameplay making Square Off a noteworthy addition. At only 240 MSP, I highly recommend it to any 2D shooter fan regardless of whether you plan to play it alone or with some friends. Obviously, you'll be getting the most out of it with some friends but as stated before, even solo, the game is still entertaining. Also, if you're a high score maniac, you might just fall in love with it due to it's online leaderboards. I usually don't care for these things, but I actually replayed a few levels several times until I earned a top spot as I found it rather addicting - so you might find yourself in a similar predicament.

    Pros:
    +Awesome price
    +High replay value
    +Solid graphics (looked professional)
    +Cool sound effects/music
    +Cooperative & competitive play (up to 4 players, local only)
    +Boss fights (final boss as well)
    +Fun gameplay (good for all ages, although it is a bit violent)
    +Decent enemy/weapon/item variety
    +The game doesn't force you to give a crap about the storyline, I personally enjoyed it without really knowing what was going on, killing aliens was good enough for me (go to the menu if you want to see the story)

    Cons:
    -Online play was not really expected but would have made the game much better, this game would be awesome with some friends online (a price increase would have felt justified as well)
    -While it's natural for these type of games to become a bit repetitive after several waves, it would have been nice to have had some bosses respawn in the later waves to keep it more interesting
    -An option to have some AI controlled aliens in death match could have made it much more intense
    -No drop-in cooperative play, you must restart the match in order for someone else to join in once the # of players has been selected already (which is understandable due to the leaderboards, however, perhaps there could be an option to disable leaderboards temporarily and allow such things if you wish to play purely for fun)

    In closing, Square Off gets a 8.75/10 and is definitely one of the more impressive offline cooperative games currently available in the Xbox Live Indie Games marketplace. Give the trial a download at the very least, you won't regret it and if you do, well the aliens will come and take you away... This game was primarily evaluated in single player, multiplayer was tested out just for functionality.

    This game was obtained from the developer rather than purchased, for review purposes.
     
  2. jigsawhc

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    Sounds pretty fun. I'll have to have some folks try it out in co-op.
     
  3. GaMeR

    GaMeR
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    Update: The game recently received a price-drop to only 80 MSP + an update that added an extra level to main story as well as 2 death match levels. I highly recommend it at this point as it's a steal at that price with those new additions.
     

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