Hexic HD (Xbox 360) review
"In the end, despite the frustration and occasionally unfair situations that sometimes surface, Hexic HD is a great way to pass the day away with. "
Well, this is a surprise.
It isnít too often that we get a free game with the purchase of a next generation console. In fact, I canít remember the last time I got a full game without paying for it. From this point, you would likely come to believe that Hexic HD is a dud; something that was conveniently thrown together at the last minute to provide the customer with as big a package as possible. Well, before you jump to conclusions, allow me to delve into the hidden complexity that sums up what the underrated puzzler really is. For before I got into Geometry Wars, Joust, and all the other addicting games from Xbox Live Arcade, there was only Hexic.
A thought probably comes to mind at this point. Why on earth would I waste time with a puzzle game when I have hits like Dead or Alive 4 or Call of Duty 2? I mean, arenít manly games like shooters and fighters worth more of my time than a free Bejeweled look-a-like? Of course they are. However, there is always a reason to play every game on the Xbox 360, and that is for the achievement points. Whether you love flashing your gamer card to show off your amazing skills or just enjoy attaining the satisfaction that you completely beat a particular game, the whole point system Microsoft came up with is really something special. Aside from the incentive to actually play, Hexic HD also provides an addicting experience. From the bright visuals and score save feature to the surprisingly deep game-play mechanics, there are more than enough reasons for you to dig this one up.
As far as progression goes, the game requires you to rotate various colored hexagons in order to get three of the same color in a cluster. Once this is done, all three pieces will disappear, resulting in a loud chime and allowing more segments to enter the board. Getting combo after combo seems simple enough, but the real trick behind the title is forming a flower shape with pieces of the same color. The middle hexagon will then be replaced with a silver star, giving you the ability to rotate a lot more pieces at once. And if by some miracle you can position six stars in a flower-shaped pattern, you will receive what is known as a black pearl. Get three of these to connect and you can consider yourself the most patient man (or woman) who has ever lived.
Despite the interesting layout, the increasingly difficult nature of the game makes Hexic HD one of the most frustrating games I have ever played. There is nothing more aggravating than forming three silver stars, then accidentally flipping them the wrong way, thus deleting them off the screen. Bombs, tiny little pieces that explode after a certain amount of turns, are yet another way to demolish a good run. Imagine having two black pearls on the screen -- your mission nearly over. Then, along comes a bomb with a color that does not match any in your vicinity. To make matters worse, you only have five turns to combine that bomb with two hexagons of the same color. Can you do it? Most of the time the answer is unfortunately, no.
Now everything that has been mentioned up to now has been based on a scenario with no time limit. Want even more of a challenge? Then the time trial and survival modes are the tickets for you. In time trial you play as if you would in the regular mode, but with a troublesome clock slowly ticking down your remaining run. With every combo you connect, the score will continually increase, with star creations adding to the maximum time limit.
The latter of the two, survival mode, adds a completely different dimension to the game; that being the lack of additional falling pieces. The object here is to clear the screen of as many color coded segments as possible, but when you run out of possible combinations, the remaining pieces will get locked down. The game board will be refilled, but this time with a twist. You will have to continue using only the freshly added hexagons, along the way trying to combo them with the frozen ones. This adds a Tetris-esque dynamic to the game, which shouldnít come as too much of a shock, considering Alexey Pajitnov was the one who created Hexic.
Interesting how some things come together.
In the end, despite the frustration and occasionally unfair situations that sometimes surface, Hexic HD is a great way to pass the day away with. The challenging nature of some of the modes and relaxing background tunes provide a unique experience that only the best of puzzle titles can bring along. It is not as good as some of the other games readily available on the Arcade, primarily because of itsí lack of extras and absent online competitive play. Nevertheless, there are plenty of things to do in Hexic, and youíll be so into it that you will forget you got this for free. Just be sure you donít break your controller or any other hardware peripheral, if frustration happens to arise.
Those arenít free.
Staff review by Branden Barrett (June 19, 2006)
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