When it comes to playing games there’s one thing that we all have in common, we want to have fun. Many games focus on challenging the norm, others try their best to convey a strong story or character. Some games even reiterate the same game year after year with a similar formula to appease fans of the franchise. Then in comes a game that’s specifically designed to be challenging and loads of fun with a few friends.
In Space We Brawl is an unsuspectingly entertaining local multiplayer game. Being a predominantly single player gamer, I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun I could have in an MP game that’s not an MMO.
There’s no story to this game; you just fly a spaceship and eliminate all other aliens and spaceships while avoiding asteroids and other hazards. The game is divided into two sections: multiplayer and challenges. In challenge mode, which is more of a tutorial, you play various missions aimed at preparing you for the frenetic and chaotic battles that will ensue while you’re in the MP. Completing the challenges also unlocks various ships and weapons, so it’s advisable to complete them as soon as you start the game. It’s also the best time to familiarise yourself with the control system and how to manoeuver the various spaceships.
The controls are very simple, but if you don’t have a second controller and you, like me, decide to use your Vita as a second controller, you’re in for one rude awakening. The left analogue stick is used to move your ship and you aim your guns with the right. R1 activates your booster while L1 activates your shield. All’s fine and dandy until you need to shoot. The L2 button is used for secondary fire and R2 is used for primary fire. When you’re using your Vita, it means you need to constantly tap the back touchpad – and that kind of co-ordination is not easy.
Once you’re familiar with controls, or as good as you’re ever going to get, then it’s time to tackle the main game. First off, there is no single player, so if you don’t have a second controller, a vita or a friend with a PS4 controller, DO NOT BUY THIS GAME! If you do, bring your friend over for some action. There’s enough space for four players, so if you’ve got more than one pal to play with, bring ‘em.
When you’ve got all your players together you need to select how many matches you’re going to play. In Tournament you can play up to 10 matches. There’s a Championship option, but the winner is decided by a different set of information. Once you select the match value you can select your ship. There are quite a few options for you to deliberate over. Spaceships range from lightning fast to sturdy as Wolverine’s skeleton. Next you need to pick a weapon. Certain weapons are much better with some ships, for example, the duster (shotgun) and the Juggernaut are great while the Ion Vulcan (machine gun) is really great with the Cypher ship. Mixing and matching your options is a good way to find what works for you. All the ships have the same primary attack, which is relatively useless, so it’s best to just use the secondary fire, even though it sucks up energy. Energy is needed to power up the shields and boost the engines for speed. It’s also needed for secondary fire, so there’s a cost for everything.
Winning is simple: kill your opponents. The last to survive, wins. However, winning isn’t that easy. Each map, there are 8, features a specific threat such as alien nests, alien hotspots, asteroids, solar winds and even singularity fields. Each of these factors contribute to your success or failure. For example, you could break open nests near your opponent and the aliens will swarm over him. You can use an asteroid to avoid fire or project one at your enemy. Or you can skip fighting each other to eliminate aliens and then battle each other.
Now, the game has a nice way of rounding things off, so if you think killing the enemy spaceship will give you that trophy, guess again. Once you’re done with the matches, you move over to a scoreboard where you get to see various stats that contribute to your overall score, but there are other achievements you might have received that will earn you points. Kill a certain amount of aliens and you’ll earn the Xenophobe achievement, collect shards and you’ll earn Collector, etc. All these achievement points could tip things in your favour, so even if you play crap, you could still win the overall battle (Ed – Why does this sound like those random Mario Party stars at the end of each game?).
There are a few issues that I have with the game, starting with the fact that there’s no online MP. I understand that the premise is local, but not everyone has a pal with a controller and not everyone can afford a second controller either. Online would’ve made the game a little more accessible. Secondly, unless you’re playing the toughest map, the rest are pretty small. The more people playing the busier the screen and you actually lose track of where you are. It’s fast-paced, so knowing where you are is very important.
Despite its animated look, In Space We Brawl is a very fun and challenging game. It’s not something you can play alone, but if you regularly have friends over, this is a great game to have for some friendly competition.