Omega Five Is Alive

omegafiveimpress.jpgI've been drooling over it for months, and now it's finally here! Is Omega Five everything I had hoped it would be? Well, yes and no. It has all of the shoot-em up action I was expecting, and it is one of the most beautiful games you're likely to find on Xbox Live Arcade, but the limitations of the format inevitably shine through on the presentation end of things. After playing with the game just about every free moment I've had in the day, I can't shake the feeling that this would have been a truly spectacular game had it just been fleshed out a bit.

As I said, it is one of the prettiest games on XBLA, and the visuals alone are worth the $10 worth of points I dropped for it. Playing through as Ruby, one of the two initially available characters, I was really impressed by the variety of enemies, the colorful effects, and the sheer amount of things flying across my screen at the same time. Then I played as Tempest and my jaw completely dropped.

Tempest's weapons are simply breathtaking. Flowing globules of frost and fire issue forth from his weapon, flowing like slime over enemies, splashing against them with impressive physics for a shmup. It really is a sight that online videos do not do justice.

The gameplay itself is pretty standard. Fight your way through hordes of enemies while collecting various power ups and charging up your super weapon. So far the game is relatively easy, and the initial three continues should last you quite awhile once you get the lay of the land. Once you complete a level in arcade mode you unlock it in the challenge mode as well, allowing you to hone your skills alone or with a friend via co-op to a razor's edge.

My biggest disappointment, as I said earlier, comes from the presentation. There is no storyline for Omega Five. You choose a character and off you go, blasting the living hell out of things without any real overly obvious motivation. There are no difficulty options...just a simple menu allowing you to start a new game, play offline multiplayer, adjust the settings and read up on gameplay.

Omega Five is definitely worth the $US 10 to shmup fans everywhere. It's a beautiful example of what is possible via Xbox Live Arcade, while at the same time being a sometimes painful reminder of what isn't.


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