When you complete a level in Resogun, the robot voice of the game’s announcer (Anne Droid, we’ll call her) emerges from the DualShock 4 in your hands and makes a simple observation: “Armageddon”. As gloomy a proposition as the end of the world may be – even the alien prison-colony one you’ve been whizzing about trying to free the last remnants of humanity – she sounds pleased. Apparently even synthetic beings dig firework displays.
This is where you stop blinking for about 25 seconds. Bolts of lightning fork through the terminally black sky. The hovering cylinder that makes up the Sentients’ home world explodes into miniature cubes – voxels, as the developer calls them. Completely unflustered, your spaceship barrel rolls in money-shot slow motion through the neon devastation all about. Damn it feels good to be a gangsta, you think to yourself as you and loosen your panicked stranglehold on the DualShock 4.
Even if you’re playing Rookie mode, the easiest of four available difficulty tiers, witnessing the laser light show described above will feel like payment for a hard day’s work. The follow-up to Housemarque’s critically adored shoot-em-up Super Stardust HD, Resogun pulls off the notoriously difficult high-wire feat of balancing simplicity and familiarity with meaningful design innovation.
Housemarque’s neon shmup sets your navigation along a cylindrical plane, and this isn’t just a cosmetic touch. The architectural structures populating the world are sparse enough to allow sight lines other sides of the ring. In order to boost your score and collect bonuses such as temporary shield buffs and extra lives will require you to free and then deliver to safety a number of imprisoned humans.
These little green dudes can die once they’re released from their holding pods so you’ll spend half your time speeding around the level to get to them before they meet an untimely demise. The tease of being able to clearly see your destination on the other side of the turntable-style level makes getting there even more tense.
“Damn it feels good to be a gangsta, you think to yourself as you and loosen your panicked stranglehold on the DualShock 4″
Fly over these humans and they’ll automatically cling to your ship, which allows you to carry them up to the safety pods where a tractor beam automatically extracts them. If you’re busy blasting away a wave of enemies, you can even fling them through the air into the path of the tractor beam by hitting L2 and pointing the left stick in the direction you want to throw them.
Resogun’s equivalent of Pac-Man’s power pellet is the Overdrive meter. Once you’ve filled it by hoovering up green power cubes left behind by vanquished foes, you can unleash an electrical beam of such ferocity that you feel like a god.
The first twin-stick shooter of the next generation has a good chance of being PS4’s dark-horse killer app at the console’s launch. It’s hard to remember ever having quite this much fun whizzing around blowing up things in space. Resogun showcases how stunning arcade games can look with PS4 tech.
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