Review: AIPD (PS4)

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Title: AIPD
Format: PlayStation Network Download (186.7 MB)
Release Date: January 29, 2016
Publisher: Blazing Badger
Developer: Blazing Badger
Original MSRP: $9.99 (US), €9.99 (EU), £7.99 (UK)
ESRB: E 10+
PEGI: 7
AIPD is also available on Xbox One and PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Twin-stick shooters are becoming quite popular with another two being released on the PlayStation 4 within a week of one another. I put both through their paces and find out if either AIPD or Tachyon Project can knock Geometry Wars 3 out of its top spot.

Gameplay:
Just like other twin-stick shooters you move around the arena with the left stick and aim with the right. R2 fires the primary weapon that has several variants, each one unlocking at certain milestones. My favourite is the Accelerator, a powerful gun that launches high-speed projectiles that pierce through all targets.

You also equip a modifier before the game. These alter your ship offering better speed, improved cooling, or the insane boost. Trust me, you will agree. I’m not a big fan of these and some seem to add more hindrance than benefit.

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The standard game plays as you would expect and some would instantly see a few similarities with Geometry Wars, even down to the little blue multipliers that need picking up after killing an enemy. This isn’t a bad thing and where the game differs is what interests me the most.

After each fairly short wave you are given a challenge decision. Your ship is floating in-between two random game-altering choices and you move either left or right to pick. These could be anything from making an enemy faster or increasing their shields to a particular craft dropping a fusion bomb upon death.

Each decision has a different multiplier boost and the harder it is, the more you get. Risk and reward at its finest. All of these multiplier modules stack too, so don’t think you only have to suffer with your choice for one round. You can even design your own game modes with some or all of the mods and see how far you can get.

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There are four different game modes, each with four difficulty levels, but none feel that different and are just a small variant of the standard mode. Hostile Space, for example is where all environmental dangers are all present. High-Tech Armada has enemies start with all abilities. I guess they fill up the simple menu a bit but sadly didn’t keep my attention long.

AIPD differs from many other twin-stick shooters because after many, many attempts I have been unsuccessful in killing the boss. I’m not sure if it’s the one and only boss, but I cannot do it. It would seem like many other people are in the same situation as me since one look at the leaderboard has me in third place. There isn’t even a large margin separating first, second, and third place.

… the poop bomb …
One constant niggle is the bomb that’s expelled from the rear of your craft when the guns overheat, or the ‘poop bomb’ as my daughter calls it. Every gun in this game could overheat. When that happens you are momentarily unable to shoot and the heat, I guess, is expelled in the form of the aforementioned poop bomb. It damages your craft if too close, and when it shoots out the back, your craft is propelled forward. I always forget about this and it puts me off my rhythm.

I do like the glowing dots around the outer edge of the screen that signify where most of the enemies are and the speed of the game becomes blissfully fast. I do not like the hard to spot mines, bombs, and that every pick-up looks almost identical. After a few waves, the action becomes cluttered and messy, with too many craft swarming the screen. It often becomes hard to know what enemy is near you, therefore difficult to react on many occasions.

There is no Platinum trophy and rightfully so as there isn’t really much of a game when you think about it. Even with the various modules to swap in and out, it all feels very similar.

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Visuals:
Inspiration from Geometry Wars is evident in the graphical look of the enemies and weapons, albeit without the demanding and strict adherence to geometrically simplistic shapes. These craft have more complexity and depth. Each thing still has a bright and bold color that makes them stand out against the black background.

The edge of the circular arena has a circuit board barrier that does a good job of hiding the spawn points of the enemy craft, sadly though it never changes and the arena quickly feels a little cramped and claustrophobic.

… entertaining music and effects …
My biggest frustration was the screen shudder when firing my preferred weapon. It made the screen almost continually rattle and became very tiresome. I would have liked it if the feature instead signified when the guns were overheating and I could have reacted to it more often than not.

Audio:
The game contains some entertaining music and effects that reminded me of a few sci-fi action films. My wife became annoyed with the monotony of the gunfire, but it didn’t frustrate me.

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Online/Multiplayer:
Up to four players can jump into a local game but sadly only appear as Player 2, for example, and are not identified by their signed-in PlayStation identity. No one but the first player can decide on the challenges – there is no split voting here folks.

The action remains fast and fun without any noticeable slow-down although I could only try it with two players so I am not sure how it plays with any more in the mix. There are leaderboards and a cumulative score total that awards weapon unlocks and some bragging rights.

… not enough to keep me coming back …
Conclusion:
If you’re desperate for another twin-stick shooter then this is one to consider but for all its attempts to mix up the genre, most of them tend to annoy more than anything. AIPD needs a few more tweaks and maybe a couple of true alternate modes to keep me entertained. I did have some fun in this messy shooter but not enough to keep me coming back.

Score:
6.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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