Assault Heroes (PSN) Review
Assault Heroes came out way back in 2006 on Xbox Live Arcade and now, four years later, it finally arrives on the Playstation Network. Is this shooter a worthy addition to the PSN or is this a case of too little, too late?
But what is Assault Heroes? Well, the game is a shooter, a throwback shooter at that and reminds me a lot of the 16-bit classics. You control a vehicle from a top-down perspective and shoot everything that moves on the screen. You have your choice of three weapons that can be upgraded by collecting power-ups as the levels progress. You have your standard machine gun with a rapid rate of fire, but it is pretty much useless against armored vehicles. The flamethrower has limited range but it is especially nasty at close range and flak cannon that has a slow rate of fire, but that turn armored vehicles and buildings into dust relatively quick. You have access to a limited supply of grenades and the screen-cleaning nuke bombs. The good thing is that you can switch between the three weapons at any time, which gives you a wealth of strategic options.
The controls are fairly easy to grasp. You move with the left stick and fire with the right stick. R1 and L1 are used to switch between weapons and R2 and L2 are used to deploy grenades or nuke bombs. Like all good shooters, the controls will take you exactly five seconds to learn and they never get in your way, letting your skill and reflexes take over. That’s a good thing, because you will have to deal with soldiers, suicide soldiers that charge at you, tanks, helicopters and other enemy types coming from all directions. You might find yourself using your machine gun to mow down a group of enemy soldiers, swerving to the left to avoid incoming fire while changing to the flak cannon and dropping bombs on a tank. Sometimes it feels like a well choreographed ballet of bullets as enemies blow up and you miraculously escape danger unscathed. The game keeps the action fresh with bosses and different enemy patterns, so you don’t get bored.
But what happens when you get hit? Well, if you can avoid fire for a while your health will recharge, a la Halo. If your vehicle is blown up, you are not dead yet! Yes, you can run around on foot and survive for a few seconds until a new vehicle shows up. However, this is difficult since you move slower and are only equipped with a rifle and whatever grenades you have saved up. It is possible to leave your vehicle at any time, which is useful since there are some passages your vehicle won’t fit through. Also you can reach enemy bunkers and accesses underground areas were you run around on foot and shoot soldiers. These on foot areas are a nice diversion although I found them a bit boring when compared to the chaotic on-vehicle action. Another positive aspect of the game is that you can invite a friend to play some on-line coop, which is a ton of fun.
The graphics are not spectacular by any means, but they get the job done. The enemies have nice details and animations, the explosions are satisfying and they are full of nice little details like palm trees that fall down when a tank runs over them. Chances are you will appreciate the graphics more when you are watching someone else play, because there is so much going on that if you are playing, you won’t have much time to stop and admire the vistas. The good thing is that there is no slow-down at all even in the most chaotic of moments. The soundtrack is full of explosions and more explosions and that’s the way I like my shooters! The only thing I hated is the sound of the suicide soldiers….they are annoying to say the least. The music is typical techno fare, but it fits the game well and never gets in the way.
The Playstation Network is full of shooters but Assault Heroes is one of the best. Don’t let this game’s age fool you; it is definitively worth the price of admission, especially if you like old-school shooters. PS3 owners had to wait for years to get it, but those four years were worth it!