There's something about an addictive shooter that pushes you to keep getting higher scores – especially when you're competing against friends. The Geometry Wars games got the job done on Xbox Live, but Sony had its own offering in the genre with Housemarque's amazing Super Stardust HD, which remains a downloadable staple for the PlayStation Network to this very day.
The team behind Stardust have returned with yet another gem, one that's bound to be a hit amongst the PlayStation 4 launch titles. Resogun combines the crazy visual fireworks of Stardust with the side-scrolling concept of the arcade classic Defender, as you shoot your way through waves of enemies while keeping humans from being kidnapped by aliens.
You move around in circular stages, but this time go from side to side instead of a top-down view. You'll contend with enemies that appear on either side of you, whether they're small spaceships, larger craft that require more gunfire to bring down, or cannons that spew out consistent spread shots to bring you down.
You'll have a non-stop blaster that you can fire to the left or right, along with limited power-ups that give you an advantage. There's a screen-clearing bomb that goes all the way around the circle; a special boost meter that lets you plow through enemies at rocket speed; and a spectacular-looking overdrive attack, which unleashes a large, blue lightning bolt in front of your ship, with the guarantee that you'll fry pretty much anything it comes into contact with.
In addition, the humans you save in Resogun – who are highlighted with glowing icons that appear in the level – can provide additional support, including shields and faster bullets for a limited time. On the flip side, if they're captured, that power-up is gone for good, and you'll have to contend with your default weaponry.
Like Stardust before it, Resogun gives you opportunities galore to build up your score, using combo counts. It's here that the combination of your shooting skills and power-ups can be used to your advantage. For instance, you can fire your way through a horde of enemies, then use the boost to clean out a group of cannons at once, building your multiplier and shooting your score well into the thousands – and eventually millions.
Just keep in mind that gaining high scores won't come easy. Resogun packs quite the challenge, as waves of enemies come at you non-stop. You'll barely get a chance to breathe as you wipe out a squad of ground troops, only to have twenty or so ships flying at you from the opposite direction. You'll have to keep moving – and unleashing your weapons – if you want to stay alive. So, in a way, it's got a lot in common with Defender, even though its visuals are far beyond anything the 30+ year old arcade classic could accomplish.
That's not all. Resogun also has bosses. We're talking huge bosses. During a recent hands-on demo with the game, we came across a huge rolling metallic wheel, covered in armor and shooting a constant stream of bullets our way. To bring it down, you'll have to chip away at its plating until you reveal weak spots that glow red.
Fire at these enough times and it'll eventually break down, only to reveal a new firing pattern from inside the wheel. In order to finish it off completely, you'll have to jump in and avoid its swinging parts while pounding away at its weak spots. It's a lot harder than it sounds – and you will die often.
Fortunately, Resogun is the kind of game that you become better at as you practice. You'll get more used to the power-ups and combining them together to eliminate enemies; you'll get better at learning human locations and picking them up for additional points and power-ups; and, yes, you'll beat the boss and eventually get to the next stage of the game, where you'll have to do it all over again.
Though Resogun doesn't use any new-fangled control schemes that take great advantage of the PlayStation 4 controller, it feels like a classic shooter should. The controls are very responsive, as you'll have no problem moving about the screen and hitting what you want to target. The pacing is just right too, even though there are times the challenge can be overwhelming, depending on who's flying at you. Just stick with it and you'll eventually make it through. Maybe.
Even though the PlayStation 4 has several high-profile games coming in both digital and retail form, Resogun deserves a spot on your list, especially if you love Super Stardust HD as much as we did. Give it a download when it hits the service on November 15th. Oh, and bring those shooter skills – you'll need them.