Aces of the Galaxy Review
Aces of the Galaxy is in many ways a throwback to the shooters of old. Hordes of enemies come flying at you unleashing salvos of weapons and you must 'dodge and shoot' to have any hope of staying alive. However, the graphics are decidedly next-gen and the game does add a few wrinkles to the standard gameplay for the genre. This coming together of old and new results in an interesting XBLA game, but one with its share of shortcomings.
Aces of the Galaxy is what I call a 'cursor shooter'. The targeting reticule not only aims your weapons, it directs your ship's movements as well. Move the reticule to the left and your ship will bank to the left. Move it up and your ship will climb towards the top of the screen. The control scheme simplifies things as far as eliminating the need to manage separate movement and fire controls but it also gives you less control - you can't 'dodge left, shoot right' in this game. Once you start playing you'll quickly discover that you have less control over where you can take your ship than it seems as first. The space setting of the game is filled with planets, asteroids, and large spaceships, but you can't explore these things. You're not really on a rail since you have a little freedom of movement, but you can think of it as traveling in space in a glass tube.
Speaking of the game's depiction of space, it's really nice to look at but it manages to be too much of a good thing. Space is so colorful and so packed with ships, asteroids, and such that it can sometimes be difficult to pick out the enemy ships. The developers probably noticed this issue because they added vapor trails to most ships to help pick them out from the background, but all of those vapor trails also serve to make the screen even more cluttered. Throw in weapons fire zipping in and out of the screen and you get a psychedelic kaleidoscope of a light show that can probably cause epileptic seizures in somebody in the next room. There's also an issue in that at certain points in the game you'll need to try and dodge asteroids, mines, or space debris. Trying to figure out what you can't run into from what must be dodged is unfortunately a continuous exercise in trial and error.
Your weapons arsenal consists of your mainstay blasters as well as missiles and torpedoes, all of which can be upgraded by power-ups you'll as floating in space. For some reason the game won't let you simply keep your finger on the blaster button, so you'll be forced to press it a few million times during the course of a game. The missiles are cool in that if you keep the fire button depressed you can use the cursor to paint multiple enemies. Release the button and your homing missiles will strike all of your designated targets. The torpedoes come into play when you face larger, slower moving ships. Since you must hold the cursor over the target for a few seconds to obtain a target lock, they don't de well with the smaller, faster ships. Your ship is also equipped with a scanner that can find cloaked ships. The cloaked ships are there to provide bonus points and don't present any kind of threat to you.
Aces of the Galaxy can generate so much frantic, brightly-colored action that it's hard not to work up a sweat while playing. And by all means it should be a difficult game, but on the contrary it's rather easy. I'm not sure why you can survive as long as you do in the game when by all rights you should be destroyed every few seconds. Perhaps it's that your enemies are really bad shots. While I'm not a fan of overly difficult games, the relatively light challenge presented by Aces may be its undoing. Hardcore shooter fans will find it all too easy and too random to really spark their imaginations. For others the game can be thrilling, but the lack of challenge will probably make them tire of the game before too long.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 78%. Aces of the Galaxy is a wild ride that isn't as dangerous a way to travel as it may first seem to be.