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Avid XBLA gamers should definately check this game out.

10

Editors' Choice
Difficulty:
Just Right
Time Spent:
10 to 20 Hours
The Bottom Line:
"Surprisingly good"

Summary

For a game that came totally out of the left field this week, Madballs in Babo: Invasion ended up being very welcome surprise. Games don't get much more fun than this. It sounds kind of basic at first, but once you start playing, you'll find it hard to stop.

Madballs is a top-down 2D-controlled shooter, in which you play as various ball-shaped characters wielding an arsenal of different weapons. It features both a campaign and a fully functioning multiplayer component. The campaign can be played solo or with up to 3 other people for a fun 4-player co-op experience. The campaign is actually decently lengthy for an arcade game, and offers a good variety in design across 10 levels with a mix of fast-paced shooting action, boss fights, platforming, and light puzzle solving, while serving up a good challenge on the Normal and Hard difficulties. It never feels unfair or cheap and doesn't make you redo everything if you die, but if you lose all of your lives, you must restart the entire level over again, so make sure you're extra careful during the later levels.

The multiplayer is where the game really shines. With 5 game modes, 21 maps, tons of unlockable characters, weapons, unique powers, and ranks, Madballs has just as much content, if not more than many full-retail games. It has has the standard Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch (called Skirmish and Team Skirmish respectively) and Capture the Flag modes, along with an interesting deathmatch type where the game takes the head of your avatar and turns it into a ball to play as. The more multipliers you collect during the game, the bigger your head grows. But perhaps the most impressive game mode is Invasion, which pits two teams against each other as they attempt to control the enemy team's nodes and destroy their main node. Sounds like nothing new, right? What makes this mode so cool is that before the match starts, each team must take turns designing the layout of their own half of the map, and voting on the locations of the nodes. It adds an element of strategy and makes for some very interesting games. Up to 16 players can participate in a multiplayer match.

Ranks are achieved by gaining a certain amount of experience and unlocking items. Unlockables can be earned in both the campaign and multiplayer modes, and come in the form characters, guns, and powers. Each of the game's 13 characters has 2 unique powers, some more useful than others. They really come in handy in the multiplayer, and gives a class-based feel to the game. There are also 10 guns to unlock, and each gun has 2 firing types. The damage types for the guns are divided into 4 elements: Impact, Energy, Freeze, and Incendiary. Some characters are more resistent to one type of damage, but weak against the opposite form, throwing a little more strategy into the mix.

For only $10 (800 MS Points), Madballs in Babo: Invasion is an absolute steal with all of the content it offers, and definately should not be overlooked, especially if you're looking for a new competitive or co-op experience.





Marbles for twitch happy junkies that think spiked Red Bull is a sedative.

10

Editors' Choice
Difficulty:
Just Right
Time Spent:
10 to 20 Hours
The Bottom Line:
"Highly addictive"

Summary

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Who ever thought you could pack so much hyperbolic frenetic gore in a marble slaughterhouse? Madballs is quite simply the pinnacle of topdown shooters for twitch happy junkies that think spiked Red Bull is a sedative. This game pushes the boundaries of the Shooter genre and has both invented and galvanized a niche for itself.

Imagine jumping naked out of a helicopter in the middle of a tornado without a parachute, with a stick of dynamite tied to your hand while listening to Marilyn Manson screaming into your ears, and a hungry gerbil attached to each of your testicles. That's only half of it, because i'm sure by now you're thinking this is just another superficial shooter with great mechanics, but really no different to any other quality shooter (like Assault Heroes). This is where the genius comes in, and to be honest, i don't even know where to begin.

I can just picture the face of the game designer when asked to seamlessly interweave the following gameplay elements without losing the patience of an entire generation of ADD, twitter tapping, button mashing, twitch addicts.
-Multiple classes
-Multiple weapons with multiple modes
-Long engrossing campaign with extremely funny dialogue
-Level designs that include mayhem in equal doses with puzzle solving
-A wide spectrum of multiplayer modes that has a mixture of the traditional and the unique

Remember what happened to the Dynasty Warriors series? So much effort was put into the meta design elements, that it left us wondering when the hell we would ever play the game. Madballs incorporates a surprising amount of depth without taking away your launch pad access to insta-pwnage. If it was just multi-player, i would have become a garden variety ardent fan, but with everything else i've seen, i have to acknowledge this masterpiece in my arcade top 3 alongside Braid and Geometry Wars.

Multiplay
This is where your mettle is tested and put on display for all to glare at. There are 2 views you can alternate between: one is close to topdown, while the other seems closer to 45 degrees, giving you a better view of what's in front of you. I prefer the latter, because the way i play, looking behind or around me isn't time well spent.

The controls are extremely well calibrated to the game, and you never get the sense that you've had to train yourself how to move your marble. It just appears innately smooth right from that first kill.

The weapon choices are very numerous, and the surprise is that they aren't all just different looking guns that operate in similar fashion. The variability in their combat effectivenees dictates a completely different style of play. It's refreshing to note that an elite Shotty user becomes instantly ordinary when he picks up a weapon with far less familiarity. Choosing which weapon to use isn't just a matter of personal preference, because you'll quickly get owned if the enemy team is intentionally arming themselves to expose your weaknesses. A gang of elite shotty artists will get gnashed like roadkill if the opposite team arms themselves with longer range arsenals for instance.

The multiplayer modes are varied and equally fun to play. The Avatar capabilities on the XBOX takes this particular game mode to hilarious heights not seen in any arcade game thusfar. In fact, this is the first game that has compelled me to create a facial model and expression that will leave a lasting impression on those poor marbles i spit out like so many rabbit turds.

The endless combinations of weapons, special attacks, firing modes, and levels will force teams to create winning strategies that are well suited to not only their environment, but their opponents as well. For those of us that are more interested in just getting our marbles covered in the gore of our enemies, there are modes a plenty that will reward us with dismembering body part blender-like explosions with a well aimed gun to the face. OMG, i so wish i could periodically go into 1st marble mode so i could tea bag the fallen marbles around me

Campaign
I have only reached the 3rd level, but i'm already looking forward to the next levels and their evil Bosses. The campaign contains the same superb handling and playability of the multiplayer modes, but with a healthy dose of comedy, puzzle solving, and Boss battling. Not since Castle Crashers have i enjoyed each level and the unique challenges i would find within.

The AI fights with cold precision, and apart from the Boss fight, an experienced Shooter artist will have a challenging but manageable array of enemies to overcome on HARD. The Boss fight is as difficult as you would hope, and requires a completely different strategy each time. If was as easy as simply shooting it, i'd be at level 5 by now.

The dizzying array of unlocks, promotions, and achievements keeps you hunkering for more after each battle. Each toy can then be taken into the arena to test, learn its usage, and eventually master. Think Battlefield, Team Fortress or Call of Duty on steriods and you'll get some idea of the richness in this gameplay element.

PROS
-game design is deep and engrossing without losing that uniquely captivating insta-appeal of a shooter - genius
-production quality (art & music) is fantastic
-Team Fortress funny as hell
-playability is innate and easy to quickly master

CONS
-periodic lag spike that will kill me in campaign when rolling around platforms and traps (did not experience it in multiplayer), but doesn't happen often enough to take the slimmest of sparkles off this game

All in all, i would give this game a 9.5/10. It has re-energized my love of the genre with a top of the class production that should rival for XBLA game of the year.

Git yer marble on!

RabbidFly
Hardest Achievement: Mile High Club (CoD4)




Save your 500 points and buy a different art style game. May i suggest Aquia or Pictobits?

4.0

Poor
Difficulty:
Very Hard
Time Spent:
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"Total letdown"

Summary

Where to start....lets talk about the tutorial. It's good, tells you the basics, whatever you need to know. After doing the tutorials you get to choose the R&D mode. I should add, this game is about cutting pieces out to make boxes. Sounds dumb but is pretty cool of an idea.

The R&D mode consists of 14 different stages consisting of 10 levels each. You must get at least 70 points in each to move on to the next stage. I thought this was ok for the first few stages. I soon noticed how terribly hard this game was! I mean, its an ok game but this difficulty is way hard. After about the 7th stage, i really didnt want to go on. I here that when finishing these stages, you get new outfits for your character.

After doing a few levels of R&D mode, you unlock factory mode which is another nice addition gone wrong because of the punishing difficulty. You must make a certain amount of money within the time limit by making boxes. Throw in a couple of bombs, make this hard game even harder. I mean, throwing out random bombs in a box factory makes perfect sense in the first place, right? After beating these stages, you get stuff to decorate your house on the main menu, some cool extras that i will never see. There are 8 factory stages in all, i think to unlock all of them you have to beat the R&D modes first.

Well, if you already have all of the Art Style games to date and want the complete collection, go ahead and buy this....500 points wasted in my opinion. Some nice extras don't help this game out due to difficulty.

Don't play this game.




This is a masterpiece.

9.0

Editors' Choice

Summary

graphics are very nice

playability is cool, not as hard as written.
The learningcurve is not steep. it will maybe take you 5 mins to get used to.

music is cool.. a mix of muzak/ambient and with some cool rhytms

the whole concept/gameplay feels very fresh and new, not yet seen.

it feels like bliss to go save up all the particles and shoot the whole bunch towards the enemies

BUT i felt that it was to short. Maybe its not to short, but you get sucked in and i personally couldnt stop playing until i finished it...

a possible sequel that are abit longer ,and i would GLADLY spend the same amount of money as another random fullpriced "shop"-game.

this is the best happening next to the invention of the lightbulb.

Even in the most crowded levels you will not give up (my personal experience atleast), but instead try to find a path so you can get a nice hideout and start clearing the enemies.

this game is gold.




Ion Assault has an interesting take on the dual-stick shooter format, but doesn't quite get anything right.

5.0

Mediocre
Difficulty:
Hard
Time Spent:
10 Hours or Less
The Bottom Line:
"All flash, no substance"

Summary

Ion Assault, from just looking at a screenshot, can be very deceptive. The game looks just like any other dual-stick shooter out there. I assure you it is more than that, with a unique concept and control scheme. Whether this all culminates in a good game though, is another story entirely.

Starting out, Ion Assault seems like it could be pretty simple and rather easy. The object certainly seems simple enough; suck up the space dust in the area and blow it at your enemies and space rocks to destroy them. Once all of the space rocks are destroyed, you move on to the next stage. Complete enough stages and you fight a boss. Defeating a boss allows you to move on to the next level of the game and there are four levels in all.

Along the way, there are several power-ups for you to grab and harness a slight advantage over your enemies. There's a power-up that allows you to suck more than usual, and there's another one that sucks in all objects in an area thus destroying them. The power-ups are a nice addition to what is otherwise, a pretty stale shooter.

The bosses in Ion Assault are exactly what you'd expect. Shoot certain parts of the body to bring down the shield so you can shoot a specific part of the body to finish him off. The boss battles are probably my favorite parts of Ion Assault though, and I think that's mainly due to them being something a little different than the rest of the game.

As you've figured out by now, sucking and blowing is all you do in Ion Assault. This is fine and all, but it's very bare bones and been done before bar the sucking and blowing (which really is nothing more than a gimmick). The game also manages to have a giant difficulty curve which can be very off-putting to a lot of players. It also has a multiplayer mode that I did not even get to try due to not being able to find a single person to play with online.

Coming up with some final thoughts on Ion Assault is difficult, I must admit. It does everything just fine, but it just looks and feels like it's all been done before. The graphics do provide some eye candy when there's a lot of particles on screen which is a nice touch. It's not a bad game necessarily, but you're better off kicking your 800 Microsoft Points elsewhere.
7.0

Great
7.4
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