Who's that flying? Review

   15/11/2010 at 21:38       Kay       1 COMMENTS. - Score 3/5
 - WTF?, Who's that flying, PlayStation Minis, PSP, PS3

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Nope, it’s just your friendly neighbourhood guardian of Earth, protecting his major cities (and citizens) from attack by pesky invading Ravagers. Unfortunately the Galactic Council don’t quite see things that way, and have pulled him up in court for allowing the aliens to invade in the first place. So now he has to try and prove himself innocent by demonstrating his version of the events…

And so the guardian is put into your hands in WTF?!, a slightly unique take on the 2D side-scrolling shooter that incorporates elements of tower defence into the mix. Death is not an issue for the immortal guardian, so instead of a life meter you have a city health meter in the top-right corner of the screen. The task in each level is simple; stop the Ravagers from reaching the left side of the screen. Like in tower defence games, your city health meter goes down by one for every Ravager that makes it past – you start off with 50, and if the meter reaches 0 then it’s back to the title screen.

Luckily the guardian is a speedy little fellow, with a powerful laser blast that can blast the hordes of Ravagers to smithereens in seconds. You’re also encouraged to get up close and personal with the creatures, as the guardian has the raw strength to be able to rip them apart with his bare hands. And then there’s the obligatory power meter, which, upon being charged, can be used to unleash a devastating laser beam that can clean out a whole screen full of enemies. The controls are as you’d expect – d-pad/analogue to move the guardian around, X to fire the standard shot, and the square button to activate the more powerful laser when it’s needed.

Sounds simple, right? The Ravagers themselves come in hundreds, bouncing and swirling around the screen before arranging in formations– the key is to spot the patterns and intercept them before they can get too close to the left of the screen. There are also bigger monsters to deal with, however, although they don’t directly attack the city – their sole purpose is to ram you away, slow you down and generally try and stop you from killing the Ravagers. These tough beasts will happily absorb the most powerful of lasers before finally succumbing, and even then they’re not fully dead – you need to get up close, grab them using the R button and hammer on X to blast them away to finish them off for good.

In the main story mode there are five themed stages based on famous cities around the world, with each city having three levels each. Unfortunately, although WTF?! is a perfectly competent and playable shooter, the truth is these levels do tend to get repetitive really quickly. Each level goes on for about two minutes, and variation of enemy types is practically non-existent – you’ve only got the small Ravagers, and the tough bigger beasts (each city has its own variant) to deal with throughout. The third level of each city climaxes in a boss fight, whereupon the screen zooms out and you have to contend with dozens of small Ravagers trying to make it past, as well as a strict time limit to kill the boss in, making these easily the trickiest sections in the main game. Enemy attack patterns aren’t exactly sophisticated, and the truth is you’ll see most of what the game has to offer after the first couple of levels – the story mode itself can be completed in an hour or two without much difficulty.

But, just like with Mediatonic’s other PSP/PS3 Mini – the well-received Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess – finishing the main game is just half of the story. As with all good shooters there are chains and multipliers to consider when playing through the levels, and you are ranked with a medal upon completing each stage. Then there are the unlockable Infinite and Challenge modes – the latter tasking you with 24 mini-levels featuring time and score attacks, sudden death stages and levels that run at twice the speed. There are also achievements to obtain, and other fun rewards for those who attempt to get Gold medals on every level. For a supposedly Mini title, WTF?! is certainly generously stacked.

With a cartoony visual style complete with vibrant colour palette, it’s also no slouch when it comes to presentation either. The cut-scenes are perhaps unnecessary and the humour is a tad simple and childish, verging on the risqué at times, but sometimes it’s nice to have a bit of background on exactly why you’re flying left to right and shooting aliens out of the sky. With the focus on killing as opposed to surviving the onslaught, the frantic nature of the gameplay can get rather addictive, even if the whole affair ultimately lacks sophistication when compared to the best the genre has to offer. But you get the impression that all WTF?! is aiming for is a short, sharp burst of frenetic fun, and when you get that for the price of a Mini it’s hard to complain.

Stars
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Kay - on 17/11/2010 at 17:03 wrote:
 
This is out on PSN today, for £3.99, btw.
 


1 comment(s) in total.
        
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