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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Eastasiasoft
Developed By: SideQuest Studios
Genre: Shooter
Players: 1-2 (online ranking)
Rated: T (Teen)
Release Date: December 14, 2007
Screenshots: Link
Play-Asia: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

Ever since the PlayStation 3 made its debut and Microsoft started putting HDMI ports on their consoles, widescreen high-definition gaming has been put at the forefront of the gaming industry. Though PCs have been gaming in high definition for years, it wasn't truly until the advent of the current generation of game consoles that the world would never be the same.

Most genres have been taking advantage of this new era, with the exception of 2-D side-scrolling shooters. Though we have had games like Geometry Wars released, none of them captured the true essence of 2-D side-scrollers (i.e. Darius, R-Type and Thunder Force) will implementing elements of the high definition world. Well the wait is over as SideQuest Studios has released Söldner X: Himmelsstümer for the PC and soon to be PlayStation 3 platforms.

Just playing through the first level, gamer may notice an influence of modern shooters within Söldner-X. There is weapon leveling and tactical shooting, which wasn't found in shooters back in the 90s. This title uses a chaining method based on consecutive blasting of the same type of enemy. To make the action more engaging, the level designs and enemy patterns are balanced around this concept, thus allowing gamers to exploit patterns for their advantage. The game boast five weapons (pulse, beam, bow, flame and rocket), which can all be wielded by your ship. Each of these weapons can be powered up individually (a la Super Stardust HD), and are vital to destroying certain enemies and bosses a lot quicker.

As you destroy your enemies while developing chains, you ill notice the destroyed ships and objects dropping power-ups to co-inside with the weapon that was used to destroy them. Knowing this, with time you will develop ways of continuing your chains while hoping from weapon to weapon, thus collecting a variety of power-ups, making ladder levels easier to beat. With 12 levels all, it seems like a relatively short game, but in fact your first time through could take anywhere from 6 to 8 hours to beat. Strategy and weapon hoping are your keys to survival.

Söldner-X Himmelsstürmer is a stunning sight to see. Whether you are gaming on a regular LCD monitor or even a high definition monitor, the design prowess of SideQuest Studios truly shines through. However, for those who have HD monitors, the game plays in 720p, which can be an visually immersive to play. While defending yourself against areal and ground attacks, you can help but be drawn into the backdrops of each level. The detail is so high that you can see the outline of windows on buildings that are off in the distance.

However, though a visual delight, this title isn't without its own issues. If you have played several other side-scrolling shooters that have come out before Söldner-X, you will notice several missing elements. One being the lack of intro and outro cutscenes, which help set the mood for each level, while in some cases providing some story content (if available). Another thing to point out is the lack of boss warnings and dramatic background transitions. Theses issues as big as some may make them seem. In case with the first level of the game, after flying through an industrial district of a city, the backdrop does change to a junglish terrain (yes I made up my own word), which is a dramatic change when you think about, though other levels don't act the same. In case with boss battles, I have notice a die-down of enemy attacks heading into a big battle, though it may go un-notice to some.

Energy is the underlying message of this title, which is delivered through the musical soundtrack. Throughout the 12 levels, gamers will be introduced Rafael Dyll's style of energetic and memorable synth soundtrack. Not stopping there, here and there throughout the game there will be quirky German-accented voices that can be humorous at times. Mixing this with over-the-top sound effects from explosions and weapon fire, the audio experience helps flesh out the entire package.

Lasting appeal is always a factor for some gamers when deciding what game to buy, which is not really an issues within Söldner-X. For fans of games like Ikaruga, besting ones high-score and the game's difficulty levels is always a reason to come back for another. Another reason is that this game boasts co-op play, alloying you to bring a friend into the action. I haven't thoroughly tested this mode yet, but from what I have experience, the action is more intense than the single-player option.

Being a fan of games like R-Type and Darius Gaiden, I was pretty much sold on the concept of the game. I think the defining moment for getting this game came down to the visual experience and the fact that you must take to this game from a tactical mindset. Is this the best side-scrolling shooter out there, I doubt it. Would gamers find enjoyment with the game, of course due to the fact that 2-D titles are a once in awhile venture, so for those gamers who came up in the 80s and 90s will gravitate to this title.

Söldner-X is definitely the start of potentially a resurrection of side-scrolling gamed, which will come nostalgic factors for old-school gamers, while enticing new gamers to try something new.



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