Assault Heroes popped onto the Arcade with very little known about it. No one had expectations as they did with Small Arms or Roboblitz; this game was brought into the world on the back of nothing. It looked a lot of fun when first news broke on Monday about this game, with its nice looking graphics and its trigger-happy gameplay. But could it maintain the excitement it generated on only a couple of images? Read on to find out.
You are the last surviving member of an elite Special Forces unit. You have to find a secret underground lab and lay to rest anyone who stands in your way. This is all you will hear of the story, since it isnâ€™t the most prominent part of the game. As you dive into the single player for the first time, you will probably drown in a world of confusion, since the controls are poorly explained. It tells you how to shoot and aim, and mentions grenades and nukes, but mentions little about them. I had to learn myself that there are three weapons available, since they flashed the message up in the middle of a lot of chaos and on-screen action, and as such I only saw â€śPress LB and RBâ€ť, which obviously meant nothing to me. Weapons available are a minigun, a flamethrower and a flak cannon. I actually defeated the first boss (a giant spider) with only the minigun, which takes a fair while. Grenades arenâ€™t explained all that well either. It tells you that pressing the right trigger aims a grenade and throws it, but fails to explain that you can actually hold the right trigger and move the right stick to throw a grenade in various directions. In a game like this, it helps to know the controls and how to use them all. There really should have been a quick tutorial level, lasting just a couple of minutes like with Small Arms. But no, it isnâ€™t the case here, so into battle you leap.
You control, for the first couple of zones at least, a heavily armoured 4×4 buggy, with three available weapons as already mentioned. The flak cannon, minigun and flamethrower are all upgradeable with tokens that are dotted about the levels. Each can be upgraded twice, and they all get more powerful and do more damage as upgrade. However, if you die and lose a life, all previous power-ups are reset and you lose it all. The first few times this happened I got rather angry, since I was only ever one token away from having all weapons upgraded, which also means an achievement. If you take too much damage to your vehicle, it will explode and leave you controlling a little man on foot. The man on foot has a simple little blaster weapon that cannot be upgraded. He has little in the way of armour and cannot take too many hits before he dies. Anything you do kill/destroy with the man though equates to double points, so itâ€™s up to you whether you want to try doing it all on foot. Some power-ups can actually only be reached on foot, so in this case you have to hit B to exit the vehicle and control the man again to fit into the smaller spaces. Fortunately, the car does re-appear after a certain amount of time. If youâ€™re playing on hard, expect to wait a while. However, on easy, itâ€™s roughly ten seconds. Other tokens are the usual health drops and a missile token that, once collected, fires missiles every time you shoot in the direction youâ€™re facing. Very helpful when there is a lot of people and mech things surrounding you. The nuke is also useful if youâ€™re completely surrounded, as it releases a massive blast that kills anything around you.
The three levels of difficulty have a huge impact on your enjoyment of the game. I always try my games on the hardest setting, medium minimum. I found this game so hard that I had to drop the difficulty to easy, and even then, I struggled a lot of the time. However, I got more enjoyment from easy for the simple fact I could progress, rather than keep dying in the same place. Another factor that makes the game as hard as it is was controlling the buggy. In a game of this nature, I wasnâ€™t expecting the control of the buggy to be so realistic. If youâ€™re going forward and want to come immediately back, the wheels actually move and you have to wait a few seconds so the buggy can be in the right position. This is clever and makes the game tough, but a nice touch to make you plan ahead that bit more.
So how does the game play? Well, itâ€™s alright, to start with. You basically shoot anything that moves and fires at you, in an attempt to rack up points and advance through the Zones (levels). Use all three weapons you have at your disposal, and prepare for a boss battle at the end of every Zone. If youâ€™re not playing for the accuracy and ammo conserve achievements, then you could simply hold the right stick and twiddle it in a circle, to capture all 360 degrees that the buggy and man can turn in. Boring as it may be, it is often necessary. As you get deeper and deeper into the game, you get more and more bored, since you realise that there are no new enemies. You will also realise that itâ€™s the same thing repeatedly, just with a different backdrop to play against. Itâ€™s incredibly repetitive, and after a while, you begin to wonder why on earth youâ€™re playing this. The only two parts that offer marginal variation are the underground parts and the water Zone.
On each of the five Zones, there is one spot where you drive onto a platform, which takes you below the surface. Here you control the man as you attempt to reach the end of the tunnel. If you manage to reach the end, there are special items like a 1Up for getting through. Sadly, they are all the same, but at a different angle. This makes it look different, but after you play the third one, youâ€™ll know they are all the same in layout and how to tackle them. Itâ€™s a shame, because more could (and ultimately should) have been done to make them vary from Zone to Zone. The water Zone puts you in control of a heavily armoured speedboat, and if that is blown up, your little man controls a motor powered dingy. It makes a nice change, and there are finally some new enemies (although they are the same as those on the ground but with a different texture on top). Sadly, you wonâ€™t be playing as the speedboat for more than one Zone.
In fact, you wonâ€™t be playing this game long at all. If you play it on easy, youâ€™ll do well to drag it out for more than two hours, which is quite frankly very disappointing. The game also gives you no real reason to go back to it, except for the achievements, which arenâ€™t all that easy. You could try and tackle it on Co-Op, but that brings itâ€™s own problems.
Out of the ten times Iâ€™ve tried having a game over Xbox Live, only one has been successful. The other nine? Well, they all get stuck on the waiting screen as the game loads, and even if you leave it for five minutes, nothing happens. This occurs either during a Private or Public match, and whether youâ€™re the host or not, it really doesnâ€™t matter, it just doesnâ€™t work. And of that one game that I played, my stupid partner decided he would tackle the whole mission on foot, which resulted in me having to do all the work since he lost all his lives pretty quickly (this was on Hard). Youâ€™ll be pleased to know that there was no lag whilst I played though, which is a nice sign.
And thatâ€™s it, there is really nothing more to do on the game. Unless you do want to boost your Gamerscore, there really is no reason to go back to the game after youâ€™ve completed it. You donâ€™t unlock new weapons, new difficulty levels, no new anything. There isnâ€™t even competitive Live play. This game would have been perfect for four, maybe six or eight, people to do battle in an arena and blast away. But no, this was not included, and once again we are left with the question as to whether this game is worth the money/points or not.
Ultimately, the answer is no. 800 points is too steep for a game that bases itself on so many other games weâ€™ve seen before, without it offering anything new. If you have Smash TV, then you probably wonâ€™t need Assault Heroes, since they both play along on the same principle; just replace Smash TVâ€™s men with a buggy or two, and youâ€™ve got Assault Heroes. The demo of Assault Heroes is all you need to play. It is fun for the first five or ten minutes you play, and it doesnâ€™t allow you to test any more of the game, which is just as well. Itâ€™s only when you advance through the Zones that you realise youâ€™ve done this before, and nothing has changed except the backdrop. The scenery is destructible, but not on the same scale as other titles; things just fall over and make a noise if you so much as bump into them. The graphics and sound are fine, though not amazing.
Overall, it does little things new, itâ€™s far, far too short for this day and age, and the Co-Op over Live is severely let down by the developers, since it doesnâ€™t work properly. You could complete the game in about 2 hours if you die a lot, and there is nothing to go back to. There isnâ€™t even four player death match to add to connectivity and variety. I donâ€™t doubt that many of you will be upset about the score, but consider this: do you really want to pay 800 Points (which works out as $10, ÂŁ6.80 and â‚¬9.30) on a game that youâ€™ve seen and played before, just with shinier graphics and different weapons with different enemies? If you already have Smash TV (which is basically the same but 400 Points cheaper), then I cannot stress enough that you do not need this game. If you donâ€™t have Smash TV, then Assault Heroes would be better option, but even then, you will tire of it quickly. The game is Average, and you wonâ€™t be entertained for long.
Final Score: 6 out of 10 - Average (how do we rank games?)