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Review: Assault Heroes

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 isn’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 “Press LB and RB”, 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 aren’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 isn’t the case here, so into battle you leap.


Two players preparing to do battle

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 it’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 you’re playing on hard, expect to wait a while. However, on easy, it’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 you’re facing. Very helpful when there is a lot of people and mech things surrounding you. The nuke is also useful if you’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 wasn’t expecting the control of the buggy to be so realistic. If you’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.


It was at this point that I was forced to go to Easy

So how does the game play? Well, it’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 you’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 it’s the same thing repeatedly, just with a different backdrop to play against. It’s incredibly repetitive, and after a while, you begin to wonder why on earth you’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, you’ll know they are all the same in layout and how to tackle them. It’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 won’t be playing as the speedboat for more than one Zone.

In fact, you won’t be playing this game long at all. If you play it on easy, you’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 aren’t all that easy. You could try and tackle it on Co-Op, but that brings it’s own problems.

Out of the ten times I’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 you’re the host or not, it really doesn’t matter, it just doesn’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). You’ll be pleased to know that there was no lag whilst I played though, which is a nice sign.

And that’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 you’ve completed it. You don’t unlock new weapons, new difficulty levels, no new anything. There isn’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 we’ve seen before, without it offering anything new. If you have Smash TV, then you probably won’t need Assault Heroes, since they both play along on the same principle; just replace Smash TV’s men with a buggy or two, and you’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 doesn’t allow you to test any more of the game, which is just as well. It’s only when you advance through the Zones that you realise you’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, it’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 doesn’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 isn’t even four player death match to add to connectivity and variety. I don’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, £6.80 and €9.30) on a game that you’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 don’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 won’t be entertained for long.

Final Score: 6 out of 10 - Average (how do we rank games?)

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42 comments on 'Review: Assault Heroes'

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Comment by MIT ACID on 2006-12-14 19:01:39 | Reply

WHAT ARE YOU ALL THERE ! ITS PROBELRY THE BEST ARCADE SINCE ULTRA MARBLE BLAST I BOUGHT IT AND IAM V.HAPPY WITH THE RESULT

THIS GAME RULES I WOULD GIVE IT AN 8 out of 10

Like yours it is just an opinion and there pretty much going to be different for everyone.

Comment by Travis on 2006-12-14 19:23:10 | Reply

You are dumb. The game is one of the best on live. The only thing that makes this like smash tv is the control scheme, everything else makes this a much better game than that. It’s easily one of the top 5 best xbla games. Saying this is just like smash tv or others with better graphics is saying that halo is just like the original doom, but with better graphics, so no need to get halo.

Comment by AugustusBot on 2006-12-14 21:25:59 | Reply

lol

Comment by JesterT on 2006-12-14 19:24:47 | Reply

Go to gamespot.com for a real review of this game. They gave it a really glowing review.

Comment by LinkinPrime on 2006-12-14 19:36:25 | Reply

9 out of 10. Best XBLA Ever!

Comment by TheCommenter on 2006-12-14 19:40:42 | Reply

“The game is Average, and you won’t be entertained for long.”

did this guy his head on something or what??
this game is best thing since Uno and Texas Hold em..

9/10 is real score

Comment by mu on 2006-12-14 19:44:35 | Reply

i will pay $10 for two hours of sweet sweet old school goodness.

Comment by Raingiver on 2006-12-14 20:00:09 | Reply

This is a sweet game for those of us that fondly remember old school gaming goodness like Ikari Warriors, and Smash TV. I personally think this game is a lot of fun and well worth the 800 points.

Guys, seriously. Just because Ross’ opinion differs from yours doesn’t mean he’s an idiot, or that his review isn’t “real”. He just didn’t like the game. You do. I do, based on the demo, but like he said I may not once I pay 800 points for the full game (anyone have ten bucks they feel like getting rid of?)

It’s fine to disagree with the reviewer, but let’s try to be civil, mmmkay?

Motion carried. Though enough people has disagreed with the review for me to be very curious, Not played it yet but I think I will go and look.

have disagreed ?

Comment by Number13 on 2006-12-14 22:35:59 | Reply

My only gripe with his review is that he complained about not knowing what the controls are - it would have taken him a minute, tops, to do what anyone else would do and actually LOOK at the control setup before starting the game…

Comment by Farstarbuck on 2006-12-14 20:02:01 | Reply

Good to see Rossko still giving the readers what they want…..

Comment by tech on 2006-12-14 20:03:53 | Reply

Horrible review. This game is quality.

Comment by trj156 on 2006-12-14 20:16:49 | Reply

Horrible response. Your comment is opinion.

Comment by Steve on 2006-12-15 01:56:06 | Reply

horrible comment. You have no response.

i would certainly give higher than a 6!

Comment by InsaneBastard on 2006-12-14 20:15:50 | Reply

I’d give the game at least an 8 too, but that doesn’t make Ross Hayward’s review wrong.

If someone think Assault Heroes suck, it sucks…in their opinion. If you think it rocks, it rocks…in your opinion.

To say that someone is “dumb” or an idiot just because he/she didn’t like the game in the same way you did, is what is truly dumb.

When will you kids learn this?

I think Ross has written a very good review on why he doesn’t like the game as much as the rest of us. He has more credibility than the rest of you, because he uses well written arguments, not trash talking. :P

Great review Ross, although I don’t agree with you. :) I think it was super and good fun. Best yet…in my opinion ;)

Comment by Bill on 2006-12-14 20:26:01 | Reply

Wow you must not be an arcade shooter fan. I’d give it an 8 and I think it’s the best thing I’ve bought off of Live.

There’s not many arcade vertical shooters that last 2 hours and this is what AH is trying to be. It’s a very good one at that.

Comment by newmodel on 2006-12-14 20:33:00 | Reply

I think its a safe bet to file this one away as “controversial” and all just forget it ever happened! /hugs

But the controversial posts are the ones that are so much fun to bring up in our Uno games later ;)

(To rest of crew: Guys, we haven’t played Uno in too long.)

Comment by Bill on 2006-12-14 20:41:12 | Reply

Also the game is much more like Ikari Warriors and Total Carnage (sequel to Smash TV) then it is to Smash TV. Geometry Wars is a lot closer to Smash TV in game play.

Comment by El $corpio on 2006-12-14 21:11:59 | Reply

What’s up with the score?
Nicely written review, although I don’t agree.

Most people seem to disagree, me too.
It’s a great, fun, game. Sure, multiplayer may have been nice and it may be added at some time

Comment by AugustusBot on 2006-12-14 21:19:19 | Reply

I agree with the 6. After playing it for an hour, I reloaded up Geometry Wars. What was IGN thinking? The replay value of GW alone makes it twice the game that AH is. And IGN rated AH higher? Lame.

AH was more overhyped than Gears IMO. I was expecting an eleven when I downloaded it, I got a six.

Comment by Bill on 2006-12-14 22:10:09 | Reply

Overhyped? How can that be? We didn’t even hear about this game being released until Monday. For it to be overhyped we would have needed to hear about it over and over before the game was released. We aren’t getting hype now, the game is released these are reviews of the games.

Comment by AugustusBot on 2006-12-14 22:13:28 | Reply

But from Monday on it was… ‘zomg this’ll be the best arcade game to date!’ then sites like IGN give it a ridiculously high score, etc… And then you play it and it’s worse than the BK games. Ya. Overhyped.

Comment by thedge on 2006-12-14 21:24:19 | Reply

I think its a low score, but not harsh. I think its a better game than that, buy heh who cares what I think as well? At least give the demo a try if you haven’t.

Seems like one of the better xla games available.

My kids love just playing the first level over and over again. So the length doesn’t seem to bother them. :)

Right I’m off to go play it, will write some more when I have, I’m back and I have to agree the review is quite harsh although thats based on only playing the first level(once). I did discover though that its very accessible after following the hints on loading I was dispatching bad guys wholesale despite the lack of tutorial. Its also fun, and I can imagine two player co-op is a blast even though as Ross mentioned getting a game maybe difficult. I ain’t gonna put my of score it because I’m not a reviewer here and I haven’t played it nearly enough to give a score.
So I’m off to rectify the latter and possibly even buy it.

Comment by trj156 on 2006-12-14 21:56:11 | Reply

it’s ok, kinda mindless, not nearly as unique or trippy as GeoWars, i definitely agree with the 6, i got bored before i even finished the trial.

Comment by Veritas on 2006-12-14 23:04:20 | Reply

Nice review, though a little redundant. Probably could’ve axed the last paragraph. =)

I’ll try it this weekend and see what it’s like. I enjoy having different reviews like this, though; it makes me want to play the game more.

Comment by Voyager2k on 2006-12-14 23:59:10 | Reply

Mindless fanboys …… unbelievable, really.

The game is fun but very, very short. Even for 10 bucks there has to be SOME value in terms of quality AND quantity. You don’t get a lot of entertainment for your 800 M$P, hence 6/10.

It’s maybe a bit harsh but justified no matter what. And that’s coming from someone who actually likes the game.

Comment by Wet Vein on 2006-12-15 00:55:41 | Reply

Worse than the BK games? What are you smoking? (send me some) I’m not saying its game of the year…. but its fun… and that’s what counts. The fact that it looks and sounds good is gravy. I would have to give it at least a 7. Probably an 8 - but that’s just me. And those complaining that it’s too short…. have you even played the other Arcade games? Most of them are one level played over and over. Sure allot of them are retro stuff…. but my point is - who cares. If you have fun, and want to play it again then what’s the problem.

Comment by Steve on 2006-12-15 01:57:45 | Reply

I love this game, and it is worth 9/10 in my opinion. I like this much more than pretty much everything else I’ve tried on xbla, and I’ve bought this one with no second thought, and I don’t regret it!

Comment by Bill on 2006-12-15 02:44:46 | Reply

Maybe it’s an age thing then. I’m old and grew up playing arcade games in the early 80s. A new shooter like this is exactly the kind of thing I’d like to see on Live. I spend 10 bucks on a drink when I’m out so to me 10 bucks for this game is nothing and well worth it.

Comment by TheCommenter on 2006-12-15 04:25:14 | Reply

overhyped..???

since when u even can hype game when u know it fro few days..never..over hyped is a game like GOW..its just duck shoot take cover shoot duck down to cover shoot throw grenade..IMO!

but this game is NOT OVERHYPED!! it was not hyped at the first place..u need to get out of internet and go outside and stop hypying things up..

god damn if u don’t like this game go n play one of the other crap titles like defender and time pilot…

i thought it was awesome… yes it isn’t the hardest of games (although i haven’t finished the final area yet) it is still very good and very much worth while getting… putting support behind titles like this will hopefully encourage more of these types of games on the arcade so we dont just get emulated versions of old arcade games…

Comment by Wet Vein on 2006-12-15 07:54:49 | Reply

I just read the review again…. He complains that it’s too short… but also admits he played it on easy because medium was too hard. ??? WTF?? I heard the same thing from my friends who played Gears of War…. it’s to short… but then they tell me they played it on casual. You know most games are designed so that you die once in a while. You’re not supposed to be able to beat a game on one life.
Oh well.
Your never gonna get everyone to agree…. but it seems like 95% of us disagree with the review. You’re fired.

Comment by vandenbond on 2006-12-15 20:46:12 | Reply

I played the trial last night and was very suprised. It is really a gorgeous little arcade game.

Comment by Chris75 on 2006-12-16 17:37:24 | Reply

Yep I want to pay ÂŁ6.30 on a nice little arcade title. I’ve paid more than that for worse games. Nice game and its about getting the highest score, on hard not easy you big girl. The service is called XBLA, so expect to get arcade style games on it, and i’d rather play this than scramble, time pilot or any of the other dated arcade titles. Cool game crap reviewer.

Comment by StGermain on 2006-12-17 00:18:20 | Reply

I loved the demo and am planning on getting more xbla points in order to buy this game. However I need to know one this first… in the review Ross talks about there being just 5 zones, does that mean that the demo is 1/5th of the total game? If that’s the case then it is really short as I can walk through the demo in about 5 minutes.

Comment by Gazra on 2006-12-17 00:50:11 | Reply

I agree this review is rather amateur like and misjudges the point of XBLA.To me this is what download arcade games should be like rather than that old but classic stuff you can emulate for free on PC on other consoles.

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