In recent years, Housemarque have been a staple studio of the PlayStation release window – their Super Stardust series has helped launch the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita with the HD and Delta entries respectively. This year, they are plumping up another shooter to keep early adopters happy and based on the hands-on time I got with it, as well as their developer session at this year’s Eurogamer Expo, RESOGUN is shaping up to do that job nicely.
• Developer: Housemarque
• Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
• Reviewed on: PlayStation 4
• Release Date: 15 November 2013 (US) / 29 November 2013 (Europe)
Having enjoyed their previous games, especially Super Stardust Delta on the Vita, I was not shocked to find that Housemarque’s next game would be a shooter. Announced at gamescom as a PlayStation 4 exclusive, I was immediately struck by just how good RESOGUN looked. Playing it for the first time at Eurogamer Expo 2013, I can now confirm that the gameplay lives up to the incredible visuals.
Each level is broken down into three phases, at the end of which, you take on the level’s boss. As you would expect, each phase introduces new ways for you to die. The decision to switch to a cylindrical game space was apparently an easy one for the Finnish development team. The first major advantage is you can now see almost the entire arena at any one time – cutting down on unexpected encounters and allowing you a few more milliseconds to decide on your strategy. Putting limits on the upper and lower sections of the screen also means that you only have to worry about two directions. While these changes were made to help casual gamers get to grips with a game that would normally be outside their comfort zone, thankfully, the core experience is still challenging – my ridiculously low-scoring first attempt being a testament to that.
In order to help you progress through each level, you are provided with some powerful weapons and abilities. The bomb returns as a get-out-of-jail card for those times when it all becomes too much (or put another way, every five seconds). The effect, like all the others, is gloriously destructive – a shock wave propels out in both directions, consuming everything in its path.
While the bomb acts as a last resort, the new overdrive ability is more comparable to a surgical strike of devastation. When unleashed, it grants you the same power you are accustomed to from a bomb but in a more directed fashion. In the demo I played, setting off the overdrive caused a blast of what looked like blue electricity. This could then be targeted at clusters of enemy ships, or in my case, against the level’s final boss. While I was not able to confirm during my brief time with the demo, I assume there are multiple types of overdrive that can be earned throughout the game.
As well as further weapon upgrades, the final ability I got to play with was the boost. As the name suggests, it can be used to move quickly out of harm’s way. However, like everything in RESOGUN, it is when you turn it against your foes that its true potential is unleashed. By boosting through enemy ships, not only do you rack up extra points, you also gain momentum. Stringing together multiple ramming attacks in a single boost can quickly turn into explosions of colour on screen, as well as explosions of extra points and score multipliers.
For those picking up a PlayStation 4 at launch, you will be pleased to know that RESOGUN is one of the first titles available for free through PlayStation Plus’ Instant Games Collection. Despite the relative ease Housemarque now have in getting their title into gamers’ hands; they have not rested on their laurels – instead, aiming for the lofty claim of best shooter on the platform. A bold goal, but based on the current state of RESOGUN, one they can most certainly achieve.