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Xblig Review: Planetary Shield - Destructoid




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About
A qualified Environmental Chemist who happens to live in a fairly dense city with no real environment or chemistry industry.

I review indie games on another blog and you'll see them pop up here if I think the review is a good or interesting one (along with a shameless bit of self promotion)

I also operate another blog reviewing films and I mean t pick that back up when I can.

I've been gaming since the SNES days. I've been in the pro scene before for tribes 2 but hate the present pro scenes and have no interest in going back into it.

I tend to get into quite a few Betas and love ones without NDA as it means I can write about them. I have even beta tested an xbox 360 game in my time (and no not a normal public Beta one )

In gaming I'm normally the guy looking at the shelf below the AAA titles first to see if there are any great hidden gems.

My gaming drug of choice: Timesplitters in any flavour (Why won't you make Timesplitters 4 Crytek, why ????? I need my fix of insanity )
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Name:†Planetary Shield

Cost:†80 points

Review bit:
So I got a request to do a review again. Now for the developer and those of you reading this Iíve decided to make this a little different. So while you read this review thereís a drinking game to accompany it.
First get a fairly strong alcohol to make into cocktails and another you can use for shots.
Now every time I say the word broken or unfinished take a drink
Every time I say I raged out, take shot
Every time I mention the game bugged out on me take a drink
Every time I yell an obscenity finish your drink
Simple enough right ?

So†Planetary Shield, a game with a fairly simple premise. You play a space station defending the Earth from meteorites.

To start off I feel I should give some positive feedback about the game.....................................um........................................................................give me a minute...............................................................................................Iíll have something in a moment...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Itís not Zombies Zombie everywhere, that counts right ? What do you mean no, fine Iíll think of another reason.


Yeh Iíve got noth.............. wait Iíve got something, itís at least a somewhat original idea and not a pong clone.
The problem is†Planetary Shield†feels like a broken half finished game. Thereís ideas there but none of them actually seem to work for the game. Itís so unfinished I really feel I need to fully deconstruct each problem here. The very first problem is the initial language selection, all credit to the developer they are Spanish and yet they managed far better use of the English language than I do here, however when it comes to practical game design decisions it falls down. You see on the language selection screen †the darker option is the one selected, this lead to me actually starting the game in Spanish and having to restart.



So having got over that little hurdle I started playing and my reaction was ďWhat am I playing this game canít be a finished productĒ you see while the meteorites look good enough, in motion they seem like placeholder animations that werenít meant for the final game. Each Meteorite has approximately 8 frames of animation for it rotating, this creates a rather jarring jittery rotation that seems very unnatural and screams ďthis is a video gameĒ to you.

Next is a slightly broken mechanic which requires you to guide the rescue ships into the green evacuation portal. This sounds fine until you find that the games is missing a certain feature, one which for me is vital, it only works on 16 by 9 TVs not 4 by 3 and thereís no option to set a TV safe zone. Consequently I could not see the green escape portal on the side as the picture expanded beyond the screen as such. This feels like either an oversight or another sign of the game being not quite complete and ready for release. Worse still due to this problem another problem can be found. A problem which lead to me ragequitting the game early on. You see part of the programming requires you to get an escape ship through the portal, once a certain number are through it then brings in the ďBossĒ and allows you to advance a level. However if you repeatedly fail the get the escape ship out because you canít see the portal the game keeps going. Due to the design of the game you need to reach level 5 before you can save your progress to pick up again later. With the game not letting you advance until either a certain amount of failed rescue ships go or you manage 1-2 ships passing I managed to get the game to run for 45 minutes and only reach level 2. What this means is the game could run for over an hour and half before you can reach a point to continue from. Itís no secret I enjoy playing DOTA 2 but even that understands games going much beyond an hour in one session are a bit stupid† so by the hour mark itís normally near the end game. To have a game where itís possible to get to level 5 in actually only 20 minutes if you play well but being able to stretch that time to over an hour and a half is unacceptable and a sign of an unfinished or broken mechanic.

(If you view the trailer further down you'll be able to see the rescue ship and the gates. On my screen I couldn't see those so it was guess work)





During me first attempt at playing this, before I rage quit. I remembered thinking at the end of the first level ďImagine if there were a boss what would it be in this game ? A Giant Meteorite of courseĒ, can you guess what the boss at the end of each level is ? If you said a Giant Octopus youíd be wrong and rather silly, it is a giant meteorite which takes multiple hits to break up, then each part thatís broken off also takes multiple hits. Well this boss thing is a cool idea except even on the easy early levels by the time it takes enough hits to break up its close enough to pose a threat especially as each part that breaks off takes multiple hits. During later playthroughs I made if further in and you realise how important the use of missiles are in this section, that nicely segways into the subject of the missiles. While a nice idea having missiles as power ups they really do have limited use, not only do you have to actually hit the missile to detonate it but it has its own travel time so you have to not only time the missile to intercept but your own shot to make sure its explodes in time. Due to the speed of the ďBossĒ rocks itís very easy to take considerable damage due to a missile arriving too late. The other power ups include healing the defence shield and making the shield invulnerable, the problem is the shield being invulnerable actives on pick up so you canít simply save it till youíre in trouble this seems at best poorly thought out, at worst broken or unfinished.

On my second attempt at a playthrough on easy I made it to level 6. On level two or three the fairly large rocks get smaller rocks added in and you realise while the previous levels were just passable the strange ever so slight ark on the shots means your aim, until you adapt, is always slightly off so youíll find you miss a lot. With the smaller rocks your aim being slightly off becomes more of an issue. Level 6 however introduces even smaller faster moving rocks where seemingly if you miss a single shot you will lose. Heck I wonder if even hitting one rock per shot youíd be able to finish the level due to the speed and quantity of rocks. Add to this a very slight issue with hitboxes not working correctly when one rock passes another and the game really does have issues. After 5 attempts at completing level 6 I rage quit again. I have since been back and tried for 30 minutes to pass level 6 I got no further and my reaction was ďOK Iíve had about a bloody nough of this game it can go f&%# itselfĒ and I rage quit again.





What my three ragequits highlight is a poor design choice to only allow you to pick up from every 5 levels in. Even playing on easy level 6 was hard for me. Combine that with the potential issue of levels dragging out and what small appeal the game had dies off very quickly as you canít just play it in short bursts it demands 20 minute minimum up to possible an hour and a half at a time. There may be more to this game that Iím missing but playing as an immovable space station firing energy shots at rocks is a pretty boring game after more than a couple of levels at a time. You can play offline co-op though Iím not sure if that would make the game any better. If the game were to have shorter levels it would be fine or if it let you pick up from any level but the spacing is a huge problem and as such kills any pace.

As I have mentioned I found the slight curve / drop on the shot to be a problem along with other aspects and playing on easy I mentioned I only made it to level 6 and had at least three attempts to pass it before giving up entirely. Itís quite possible the game is merely imbalanced and unfinished being balanced only around co-op play. However it may also be a case of the developer becoming too good at their own game. I mean I was playing on easy mode and being butchered. On the PS2 Iíve finished both Stuntman games even 100% finishing ignition (Iím working on 100% for the 360 version too). Iím not averse to hard games or a challenge, after all I did complete Ravenholm in Half Life 2 without firing a single shot and only using physics objects and the gravity gun. To find a game this hard suggests a real problem especially as the game has 25 levels and level 6 on easy was dong me in. The game does also have a hard mode for the super masochistic amongst my readership who want the gaming experience of playing till their thumbs bleed and only getting 1 level further in.




Now some final complaints to add to this pile. I actually broke the game once, now you might think itís weird considering I have said before I normally contact developers if I find bugs like this. In this case Iím not because my Spanish isnít up to much as from the email request for this well letís just say whoever emailed me was not the person who translated the game so it would probably do little good. I somehow left the game and ended up back at the menu, however the game just locked up and pressing A did nothing on any menu option. I only had it happen once but that bug is there. Finally the death scene is a little long running between 30 seconds and a minute of unskippable cutscene showing the earth being hit and exploding.

Trailer


Verdict:†Good now hopefully the developer is too drunk to rage at me because he requested this review and Iíve just torn his game a new one pretty much. Luckily thereís a chance I wonít be raged at as the developers first language is English, unluckily I think at lead the developer or one in the team can translate. So let me say I feel bad for the developer having to read his game being ripped apart here and I did read a translation of the developers website so I do feel bad for stomping on a dream here but just as my dream is to marry Kate Beckingsale sometimes people are always capable of that dream. In this case while I donít doubt as a development studio that[font=Arial, sans-serif]†[/font][font='Helvetica Neue Light', HelveticaNeue-Light, 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif]AxouxereGames[/font]†could improve†the quality of games in its future titles however Iím reviewing the one presented here.

For being a seemingly unfinished, glitch, unblanaced mess of a game there can only be one result here.

My verdict is to avoid this one like I avoided saying ďThe only†Deep Impact†this game left was a negative oneĒ, until now.

Rating:
1/6
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