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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review: Beat Hazard Ultra

The original Beat Hazard by Cold Beam Games is such a clever hybrid of the shooter/music genres that I still consider it to be one of the best video games ever made. Is there a way to make the game a lot better than it already is? The answer to that will cost you about $5 in the form of the Ultra upgrade that was just released last Thursday. What you will get with your small investment is a massively improved gameplay experience: Ultra makes what was already a wonderful game even more incredible.

More Players = More Fun = More Flashing Lights

The greatest additions here are the versus and co-operative modes that both can be played locally or online. There were not a lot of people playing this online unfortunately but I was able to connect with several players yesterday thanks to a convenient notification feature that informs you when someone has created a game room while you are playing the game: all you have to do to join is hit F1. The online experience is really smooth with hardly any lag. You can even use your personal music collection to play the game online with others as long as that they have the same collection of musical tracks in their hard drive. Experiencing the game with another player makes the game a lot more fun and of course, a little easier though you can get a little confused now with more shots and unexpected explosions filling up the screen. Ultra also comes with several more new enemies and bosses and they definitely bring more variety to the game. Still, I do wish that there were more of them because you can pretty much see all of the new enemies after playing through a couple of tracks. It is a bit bewildering as well that the new enemies seem to show up more when they should have been mixed around with the original baddies more evenly. There are now three additional weapon power ups that you can use in addition to your screen-clearing Super Bomb: Micro Missiles, Reflect Shield, and the Ultra Beam and they all add much needed survivability in the game as well as being so much fun to deploy. Ultra also comes with new gameplay perks to unlock as well as a Boss Rush mode.

Behold! Optic Blast!

As a downlodable content,  I was expecting a little more from Ultra because the game can certainly benefit from a lot more enemy variety - maybe one unique enemy and boss for every classified track length? Speaking of which, the game's leaderboards is still not as robust as the ones found in Audiosurf. It would be great to be able to have one for each of the music tracks instead of the length of the track. Apparently, this is not a big deal for the developer but it's the little things that could propel the game even further. Still, the Ultra upgrade is a must have for those who already own Beat Hazard because it does make the game a lot more fun than it ever was before.

RATING: 5 out of 5

Click here to read the review of the original Beat Hazard.

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