I want to preface this review by stating I'm a big fan of Curve Studios. I own Stealth Inc. multiple times (and loved it on the PS4), loved Lone Survivor on the Vita, and loved Revenge of the Titans on the PC.
In other words, I was primed to love Titan Attacks, having never played it on the PC, based on my positive experiences with Curve Studios back catalog.
Instead, what I found was a game that really has no place on the PlayStation 4. Don't get me wrong, if you've read my work on PS4 Experts you know that I welcome indies to the system with open arms and value gameplay over graphics. However, Titan Attacks is just not a good fit for the system, on any level.
Space Invaders For a New Generation
The best way to describe Titan Attacks is that it's a Space Invaders clone. In fact, that's really the only way to describe it. You control a tank on the bottom half of the screen that can only move left and right, shooting the aliens as they descend from the top of the screen to the bottom. The aliens have different movement patterns (gaining speed when only a few are remaining), they shoot using bullets and mines, each level is split into a wave -- there is really no need to go on, because if you've ever played Space Invaders at least once in your life you know what to expect here. It's very basic gameplay that devolves into “shoot the aliens, don't get hit.” While Resogun was a very modernized take on Defender, adding in a few new elements to make it feel like its own game, Titan Attacks is almost a direct ripoff of Space Invaders. Almost.
Titan Attacks infuses a few new elements to the genre, such as:
- An RPG-lite upgrade system for your tank. You get cash for blowing up ships, cash can be spent on upgrades.
- Skill shots, such as shooting a ship that is crashing to the ground, award more money.
- Aliens that eject from their ship can be captured by you, which awards you more money.
- The occasional boss battle appears after every 20 or so waves.
- A shield that absorbs damage – you won't die in just one hit
The problem is, none of these elements are really fleshed out. Skill shots don't feel like they take skill to pull off, as you'll likely shoot down crashing ships accidentally as you fire on everything else. Likewise, you'll probably end up killing off the parachuting aliens before they ever reach the ground. Boss battles are nothing special, amounting to giant ships that take more shots to destroy but can shoot more shots at you; they aren't bad, per se, but they don't do anything different either.
The RPG-lite upgrading system is a clever idea, but it's the same sort of thing we see in every game these days. In fact, it feels like the upgrades actually make your ship too powerful, because near the end of the game I was demolishing everything in my path with ease. At the game's end, my tank was shooting missiles, lasers, rapid fire bullets, and the smart bombs it could deploy made even the hardest level a breeze.
Some Major Faults
While it may seem like we've already detailed some of the flaws in Titan Attacks, we're just getting started. Here are just some of the major faults the game commits during its short run-time:
- There is sometimes a small delay between when you press the “X” button and when your tank actually fires. This is especially noticeable during the golden saucer bonus levels, where you have to shoot down fast moving saucers for bonuses.
- In the final set of levels, Titan, the bullets blend into the background. That's not fun.
- There is no invincibility frames on your tank. When you get hit, you can immediately take damage again. Getting into the blast radius of a mine will very quickly drain your shield, as you'll rapidly take hits one after the other
- The meteors that begin to appear from the Moon onwards are more frustrating than they are fun.
- The game is entirely too easy and too short. I died only three times over the course of the game and the game took a little over an hour to fully complete. I don't see myself ever going back to it now that I finished all 100 levels.
When it comes to the graphics, I realize that indie games can't compete with AAA developers and I fully support pixel-art graphics – check out my reviews for other indie games for proof of this. However, there is no denying that Titan Attacks straight up looks, and feels, like a Flash game. It feels like something you would find on Newgrounds, something you would play for free for an hour to pass the time. The screen features black bars on either side of it, showing that the game wasn't even designed for widescreen gameplay, making the game feel even more like its being ported to a system it isn't a good fit for just to make a quick buck.
PlayStation 4 Advantage
Honestly, it's hard to find one.
The graphics look the same as they do on the PC and the content is the same as it was when they game released on the PC in 2012. The DualShock 4's light bar flashes when you get hit, so there's that.
The game does feature trophy support, as you would expect of any PS4 game, but the trophies are unimaginative and are the rudimentary “complete xx level” or “destroy xx enemy” trophies that you see in most games.
Titan Attacks is cross-buy enabled, so buying the game for your PlayStation 4 nets you the Vita and PlayStation 3 versions (and vice versa). Honestly, I see this game being more at home on the Vita; it's something you bust out for a few minutes while you're waiting in line at the post office. I guess you can just look at the PlayStation 4 version is a bonus to the Vita version.
The major, overall problem with Titan Attacks? The price.
On the PlayStation 4, Curve Studios is charging $11.99 for the game, a full $2 over the PC version. Maybe the price increase is due to the cross-buy aspect of the game, but the game isn't worth $12, much less $10. This is a game whose sweet spot is $4.99 or lower; in all honesty, for $11.99 there are at least 20 other indie games that give you a better, longer experience that you'll keep coming back to.
The real kick is that originally, this game was supposed to be bundled with tower defense game Revenge of the Titans, which would have been a much better deal. Why the two games were separated, I have no idea, but there is no way I can recommend this game for the current price, even if some of the major faults weren't there.
The indie field is very crowded on the PlayStation 4, even at this early stage, and when Titan Attacks is priced on the same level as those other indie games it opens itself up to comparison. It's a passable Space Invaders clone, but it's also an experience you can find on the PC at any Flash game portal, right down to the graphics.
Final Score: 4/10
A copy of Titan Attacks was provided to PS4 Experts by Curve Studios for review purposes.
Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 5/6/2014