Apart from some slightly stiff controls and unusual button placement, everything is remarkably fluid with still-attractive visuals and unique locations.
The game tells the story of a young reporter called Jade who is struggling to get by on the war-wracked planet of Hillys; subject to constant bombardment by a race of alien invaders known as the DomZ. Jade’s work as a photographer gets her noticed by the IRIS network, an underground resistance group who are convinced that things are not quite what they seem in the conflict between the military and the alien invaders.
If the story sounds surprisingly serious, it’s just one of the many surprises BG and E has in store. While you might expect an almost casual title, you’re launched in moments into heavy combat, and the conflict just gets more desperate from there. The variety is infectious – transitioning from soothing and beautiful moments where you’ll be cataloguing fire-flies as dusk falls on the island, to frenetic combat, set pieces, boss fights, vehicular carnage and stealth sections.
The level of difficulty is another surprise, both for the tough combat and challenging puzzles and the story delves into notions of corrupt governments, convoluted conspiracies and even mass disappearances, leading up to an engaging and even mildly shocking finale. It’s remarkable to see how well the gameplay has aged. Apart from some slightly stiff controls and unusual button placement, everything is remarkably fluid with still-attractive visuals and unique locations.
There are some inevitable frustrations – camera angles for hovercraft sections can be irksome, while saving your game is a chore. The puzzles might prove problematic for today’s players – used to the hand-holding of modern games. Maps are less intuitive than you might like and it’s not always clear where the next objective lies.
In the end, these are nothing but minor inconveniences in a game that goes out of its way to keep you constantly entertained. The boss fights in particular are tremendous and, along with superb graphics, great music and solid voice acting, there’s little doubt that this is set to be one of the best titles available on Xbox Live in March.