Mushroom Soup For The Pixelated Soul
It’s spring break for me right now, which gives me plenty of time to make up for last week’s dry spell. I won’t make any promises, but I should have enough content to justify a new blog post every day this week.
First, let’s get this big turd out of the way. I’m certain none of you have heard about this game before, and will likely forget about it after reading my review. That’s fine, because the games coming afterward are much more notable, including a classic shooter, an FPS that thinks it’s The Ring, Final Farming VII, and a zip file’s worth of emulated games collected into one disc.
For my first contribution to Dark Zero, here’s Exisled.
What kind of word is ‘Exisled’? It doesn’t appear in any sort of dictionary, be it urban or wiki in nature. Is the S supposed to be silent? Is it the French way to say things?
The time spent in pondering the bizarre name of this XNA title can also be spent browsing the Marketplace for a game more worthy of your Microsoft Points. Xbox Live Community games are designed to offer simple, innovative creations by indie developers without any sort of restriction by Microsoft.
The plot of Exisled involves an evil corporation with the not so subtle name of “Smog”, who is dumping several barrels of harmful toxins into the oceans while strengthening their military might across several island HQs. Is toxin dumping really a lucrative business? Do they plan to rule the world once all the trees and ocean life die out?
With Captain Planet nowhere to be found, it falls upon an unnamed taskforce sending in a lone helicopter to take on Smog’s entire battalion of airplanes, gunboats, and turrets, destroying each heavily armed island fortress until reaching the main Smog HQ for a final showdown. After all, what’s a better way to clean up the oceans than by filling it with destroyed scrap metal, spent ammunition, and an endless amount of corpses?
The gameplay involves controlling the lone helicopter and your objective is to destroy a specific number of Smog bases within a set amount of time. Obviously, there’s a large amount of enemy resistance that increases with each level. If your helicopter is taking too much damage, you can fly back to your starting HQ for a quick refilling of ammo and life.
As for ammo, all you’re given is an infinite amount of bullets and three cluster bombs. Even worse, neither one does much damage to the enemy’s fortified bases and towers; firing at a targeted fortress with the standard gun can take well over five minutes before its health is completely depleted, and that’s not accounting for nearby enemies delaying your brick by brick wall tearing. Destroyed enemies drop powerups that can increase the firing rate of your weapon… provided you collect 20 or more of the powerups. Only afterwards does your weapon change into something deadlier and straight out of Gradius, which can effortlessly mow down anything in its path. It’s just too bad the weapon upgrades don’t carry over to the next level, forcing you to start with the same pea shooter every time.
There’s really not much else to the game. You shoot down each Smog base, move on to the next level with even more bases and enemies to destroy. The only increase in the good guy’s forces is a few extra turrets to protect your HQ from enemies (once time runs out, the enemies will counter-attack with some undefeatable ships zeroing in on your base). The time limit rarely becomes a consequence, however, and losing a life during a mission just instantly restarts that same level as many times as necessary. There’s no real loss in this game, because there’s no real challenge except from the mundane shooting down of the heavily fortified bases.
It also takes less than an hour to reach the final Smog Island, which is shaped like a giant skull and crossbones (the only thing missing is a heavy-handed environmental message at the end). Once that mission is finished, there’s no other reason to replay this game; there’s no co-op mode of any kind, nor are there Achievements (you’re given awards during the mission, but they aren’t viewable at all, and seem to offer absolutely no purpose whatsoever). Either one of these additions would help increase the longevity of this title.
Spend your MS points elsewhere. Or better yet, go check out some Captain Planet reruns. Either choice is a better investment.