• Beat Hazard Review - Microsoft Xbox360 XBLIG

    Beat Hazard was bargain at 400pts and is unmissable at 80pts. There are a lot of twin-stick shooters on XBLIG, but Beat Hazard stands out by using music to generate the gameplay. It comes with some banging tunes to get you started but more importantly, any music that has been ripped to the Xbox 360's hard drive can also be used, along with any music you have access to via a media server e.g. TVersity or Media Player. So successful is the implementation of the idea that youíll quickly be experimenting with different types of music just to see what happens. Thereís also the option to just use the graphics engine as a music visualiser.

    There are three meters, for track progress, volume and weapon power. These change colour and pulse with the music. Destroying waves of enemies will yield collectable icons, which will increase the volume of the music, power up the weapons or increase the score multiplier. Collecting enough volume and power icons to fill the relevant meters turns on the Beat Hazard weapon, which being the most powerful form should be achieved as quickly as possible so you start laying down the law with style.

    The other variation to your fire power is via the music. If itís quiet, you get a peashooter. If itís thumping, you get a much larger swathe of destruction to play with. This is frankly awesome because youíll be in the middle of some serious moshing when all of a sudden, you are left with nothing! Think about the middle of Killing in the Name. However, all is not lost because you can use a few seconds of not firing at all to build up the Daredevil which adds to your multiplier the longer you leave it. You can start to see how each piece of music will lead to a different experience.

    When firing the main weapon, the edges of the bullet storm peel off, sparking and pulsing with the music. In addition, destroyed enemies or asteroids leave harmless colourful debris that also joins in with the visual assault. So the more powerful you get, the more destruction there is and the more the screen fills with dancing, flashing, swirling pixels. After a while it can even become overwhelming and there are some seizure warnings that should be taken seriously. Assuming you can handle it though, itís a visual treat which can be amplified further by levelling up to unlock harder difficulty levels. These are essential to aim for, ensuring it stays fresh in line with your skills.

    There are boss battles which fire various forms of bullets or lasers Ė they arenít bullet hell on their own and donít represent too much extra challenge, but if you donít polish them off quickly the game continues with all the other enemies arriving and suddenly you are in trouble. There is a smart bomb though which can help and also tries to do similar damage to your retinas.

    As you level up, various benefits are unlocked so that your score for a particular track can improve, such as increased starting multiplier or even starting with the Beat Hazard weapon. So if you are a score chaser, the boundaries of possibility increase as you progress, so youíll want to get to the level cap quickly before really going for the scores. You can send bragging notes to those on your friends list which is a cool touch, but there are no online leaderboards. If you have a friend that also enjoys being subjected to strobe lights, then there is a 2-player (local) Co-Op mode. The music is easy to select, being arranged into albums>tracks.

    What Beat Hazard has achieved is to be applauded Ė an indie game with a low price that stands amongst very few games that have succeeded in blending your own music with a fantastic game. It has done it so well that anyone that likes Rez or twin-stick shooters, or having their eyes melted should really give this a shot.

    Score: 9/10

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    Comments 5 Comments
    1. MisterBubbles's Avatar
      MisterBubbles -
      Fantastic game, had it ages and really loved it when i put 180 BMP banging hardcore techno in the drive, a site for eyes and ears.
    1. Jay's Avatar
      Jay -
      Streaming is supported. I've played the game to music streaming from my PC
    1. charlesr's Avatar
      charlesr -
      On the Xbox? Excellent - I couldn't see that option anywhere. Must have missed it. Any specific requirements like Windows Media Center?
    1. Jay's Avatar
      Jay -
      Quote Originally Posted by charlesr View Post
      On the Xbox? Excellent - I couldn't see that option anywhere. Must have missed it. Any specific requirements like Windows Media Center?
      No, I just have Media Player on my PC. When I go to select music, it shows my PC and I can select music from there. I have a wired connection, not sure if that makes a difference. I guess if you can normally stream music from your PC using the 360's media player, Beat Hazard will let you do it.
    1. charlesr's Avatar
      charlesr -
      Just realised I hadn't bothered adding music to my TVersity server because I'm using Logitech Media center as my music server (for squeezeboxes). The option appeared in Beat Hazard as soon as I added my music folder to TVersity! Review updated. Thanks Jay!
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