STAFF REVIEW of Hexodius (Xbox 360 Arcade)

Thursday, November 14, 2013.
by Brent Roberts

Hexodius Box art There has always been a diehard niche in the video game world that revolves around top quality twin stick shooter titles. There have been iconic staples from the past such as Geometry Wars that have long since set the standard for those to follow. Recently Brain Slap Studio and Namco Bandai Games have taken a PC title over to the Xbox Live Arcade called Hexodius in an attempt to see if their twin stick shooter can top the competition. The story is fairly straight forward and involves a robot named Fred who builds your character, B.O.B. and the two of you set out on a fast paced, action packed adventure to stop the evil robot forces. Yup that’s pretty much all there is to say about the story. While priced at only $9.99, Hexodius already won't put a dent in your wallet, but is it worth a purchase right now, or is this a budget game that should be picked up during a sale? Time to find out.

By definition, twin stick shooting action requires you to move about with the left joystick while aiming your projectiles with the right. You are free to fire in any direction as is the same with movement. This alone encompasses the main criteria for producing a quality title that utilizes twin stick action and thankfully Hexodius has done it right. Not only has Hexodius nailed the core mechanics but they have also incorporated a mix of dungeon crawling elements that will have you uncovering the map to obtain every possible upgrade. Speaking of the map, each level in the story is laid out in a hexagonal maze where each available space offers up either: A) Checkpoints and repair spots, B) Some form off offensive encounter, C) Store, D) Teleport, E) Map uncovering scans, F) Boss/End Level teleports, or G) Blank spaces.

Most of the time you will find yourself engaging enemies in battles, however, this is where the second gem is found. Throughout your exploration of each level you will have the ability to not only purchase, but find new upgrades for your B.O.B. to help you clear tougher levels, but there is a catch. You are limited to the amount of upgrades you can use per level throughout the entire game, so choose wisely.

Upgrades and bonuses range from automatic turrets that disappear after a set amount of time, to shields that can not only absorb damage, but reflect it as well, to even flamethrowers for extreme close quarters damage. You will get the opportunity to equip only three upgrades, so make sure that you decide what works best for you when playing. Then you have to decide what four bonus items you want to equip and these will only be unlocked when the resources become available. How do they become available you ask? Great question and the answer is simple, from the deaths of many, many enemy robots. The enemies in this game follow somewhat similar characteristics to those found in Geometry Wars. There are those that you can only attack from behind, enemies that will run away when you try to fire at them, and more. Each one of these enemies, when killed, will drop a varying amount of resources and after you collect a certain amount, your bonus items and weapons will be available to use. Upon level completion you will be graded from no pass to S rank and your performance will net you needed coins to purchase other upgrades and bonus items from the store located on every level.

Graphically speaking the level layouts are done in bright vibrant colors, but lack the "pop" that would keep our eyes from blinking. There is another issue and that is on some levels, for instance, the enemies you face turn to that color of the level making it quite difficult to distinguish and thus ultimately leading to hordes of enemies coming up to surprise you or hit you off screen. In one instance I was on a lava planet, which was red and my enemies turned to a reddish tint, which was more red on the screen, and then they fired shots at me which were red as well. This lack of definition can also be found in the sound quality. Mediocre level music compiled with mediocre map music, and sprinkled with a dash of mediocre menu music and you've hit the nail on the head. With the varying degree of level settings you would think that such attention would also come from the music department, sadly this isn't the case either.

What Hexodius does really well is deliver fast paced shooting and quality twin stick action, however, with faults being formed on both the graphic and sound aspects, it's far from perfect. When you take into account the arcade mode which is just score attack throughout six different levels, the bulk of your time will be spent in story mode, and if you only give value to half of your title, then that too is a fault to consider. Even though Hexodius is priced at $9.99, that price still seems a bit high for the amount of quality content that you do get. If you are a huge fan of Geometry Wars, then this could be the next big thing for you, but if you wait till it goes on sale, then you are really paying for what it's worth.

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.5 / 10
Visuals: 7.8 / 10
Sound: 7.2 / 10


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