"I realise that this game has been on the PSN for ages now, so I might be a little behind the times in writing a review for it. That said; I believe that this is still the best PSN download available and if there is anyone out there who has yet to get a copy then a little more convincing won’t go a miss. In fact Housemarque’s 3D shooter has now been around since June 2007 and I am itching for the updates promised in the games online store feature. "
I realise that this game has been on the PSN for ages now, so I might be a little behind the times in writing a review for it. That said; I believe that this is still the best PSN download available and if there is anyone out there who has yet to get a copy then a little more convincing won’t go a miss. In fact Housemarque’s 3D shooter has now been around since June 2007 and I am itching for the updates promised in the games online store feature.
Super Stardust HD is not by any means an original concept; which sounds like a negative start to a review if ever I heard one. Don’t be concerned. The only other negative thing I can think of to say about this game is that the plot is not up to much. Some professor is seeking revenge for something or other which really has no impact on the game whatsoever. Who cares? In fact who needs a plot? This game is pure adrenalin and I can survive without a storyline so long as I get to blow plenty of things up.
So this is how it all works. You control a nifty little ship which appears suspended above the surface of one of five three dimensional planets. You use the analogue sticks to control your movement and also your direction of fire. This means that you can be flying in one direction while shooting in a completely different one; a skill which you will have to master if you are to survive for very long. Each planet is regularly bombarded with asteroids and (no huge surprise here) it is your job to get rid of them all by shooting them into increasingly smaller chunks until they finally disappear. The asteroids themselves come in three types (rock, ice and gold) and luckily your ship is equipped with three different weapons in order to combat this threat. Any weapon can be used to destroy the asteroids; however, if you use the correct type of weapon for a particular type of asteroid then you will destroy it much more quickly.
As the asteroids break down they release a green, glowing core. Destroy these and a time sensitive bonus is released. These range from extra lives to increased weapon strength to bonus points. The bonuses cycle over time so if you leave an extra life floating around for too long then it will degrade all the way down to bonus points before finally disappearing. This leads to many a mad dash around the planet and regularly ends up with a head on collision with something unpleasant. Fortunately your ship is also equipped with a supply a smart bombs which can be used to clear the screen of smaller foes and which can be replenished from time to time by destroying passing cargo ships. You also have a boost function which makes you temporarily indestructible so that you can effectively ram you way to success. The boost takes time to recharge once utilised so is best saved for tight spots rather than as a weapon in itself.
In between asteroid showers there a regular waves of enemy ships to contend with and this results in an extremely busy screen indeed. As the asteroids break down they move faster and faster which, combined with the particle effect from the explosions and the speed with which your ship can move, is all really rather impressive. When viewed in a static screen shot the graphics seem no more than you would expect from a game of this type and the score I have given below seems over generous. On the move though they are silky smooth and I have yet to experience an ounce of slow down. I grant you I haven’t tried the split screen two player mode but from what I have seen I am confident that that handles things just as well.
Each planet culminates in a boss battle if you manage to clear all five planets currently on offer then you simply start again at the beginning on a harder (and faster) difficulty setting. There are already some legendary high score on the online leader board so you are going to have to clear the game several times if you want to find yourself anywhere near to the top. Fortunately this game is highly addictive and suitably difficult to make it satisfying when you nail one of your previous top scores. To further increase the games longevity there are downloadable expansion packs in the pipeline. I have no news as to when these are likely to be released or as to what they will contain, however, it is certain that they will be at an additional cost.
For those of you who purchased this game early on (like me) if you delete it from your hard rive and then download it again (don’t worry this will not cost you any extra money) you will be treated to an updated version of the game. This includes the online store which will allow you access to the expansion packs I have just mentioned but more importantly allows you to swap the in game music for any music which you have stored on your PS3 hard drive. I personally like the in game music itself but if you are not a fan of the pumping dance tracks included then this will save your ears while allowing you to continue to enjoy a great game. It is nice to see a developer adding this option when so many people have been requesting it for games in general. Keep up the good work Housemarque.
Community review by OrpheusUK (April 14, 2008)
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