Space Invaders Infinity Gene
Platform: Xbox 360 (XBLA), PS3 (PSN)
Price: 800 Microsoft points (XBLA), $15.95 (PSN)
Released: Out Now
Space Invaders is a game that has been around since the birth of videogames. There has been countless remakes and re-workings of the classic formula -that proved oh-so popular in the early years, when bulky arcade machines ruled the roost- over a huge range of consoles and formats. Some of the follow-ups have been good, building on the landmark series, which, when it comes to gaming history, is almost as well known and recognisable as the gaming icon that is Pac-man. Others haven’t been quite so good, with either broken concepts from the off, or just lacklustre game design being the limiting factor.
Space Invaders Infinity Gene links in with this history aspect of Space Invaders, which in turn links in with the Infinity Gene part of the title. It takes the game back to it’s roots, away from the 3-D re-imaginations and flashy visuals of recent years, with the start of the game being a mirror image of the original Space Invaders. This part is simple and slow compared to modern day gaming, but, putting the central idea of genetics and evolution into practice, the game world changes around you as you advance. The change in the level of intensity when contrasting the very first stage with the very last one is huge. This is because of the evolution aspect. Absolutely everything in the game undergoes changes as you progress: your ship, the enemies, the layout if the level, the visual style of the level, the pace of battles.
The theme of evolution and genes works really well and is a great concept that has been executed brilliantly. Most of the content in some way refers back to this central point. For example, where the motherships used to emit power-ups, they now dish out molecule/nucleus-like structures which help you upgrade and level up, rather than granting you power-ups instantly. Then there’s the titles of the levels, which all offer some reference to genes and biology, with a wide variety of scientific prefixes and suffixes making appearances. Team this with the retro-style graphics which slowly develop as the game ‘evolves’ and you’ve got the formula for a really authentic experience.
Another thing that has stayed true to the series origins is the difficulty. Old-school retro games are notorious for their steep learning curves, a trend that Space Invaders Infinity Gene ensures it sticks to. Back in the day, because practice makes perfect, the only way to get better was to funnel in change by the pocketful, and though the old coin-op machines are a thing of the past, the sentiment remains the same. Until you get the hand of the game you will eat through a hell of a lot of continues, and considering Infinity Gene has 4 levels of difficulty, with the top tier being the daunting INSANE mode, it should pose a sufficient challenge for any gamer.
As it is a single player only experience, the campaign makes up the majority of the title, although there are other modes to be explored such as challenge mode which sees you trying to make your way to the end of 99 levels, at which point you are awarded an achievement to commemorate this stunning feat. The campaign mode spans over a number of stages which are broken down into sub-stages. It presents you with an acceptable amount play time, with the exhilarating music fuelling your adrenaline as you speed through the fast-paced levels. In true retro fashion, just like the old coin-operated arcade machines, the game can be completed in one sitting, albeit one very long sitting.
So you may be wondering where Space Invaders Infinity Gene fits in on the spectrum for Space Invaders games. Well, in all honesty, it would probably fit in somewhere around the middle, although it could be slightly drifting towards the upper end of the scale. This is because Space Invaders Infinity Gene is good, but falls short of being great, as when it comes down to it, it’s just Space Invaders. Some people who love top-down space shooters will be in heaven with this game, whereas others who have no special bond with Space Invaders and the associated genre will be unimpressed, and more importantly, uninterested. However, there are a number of additions for the better; the theme of evolution works very well and the developers have done an excellent job in implementing it into the style of gameplay. It is fast-paced, it is difficult and it has a good soundtrack which is well-suited to the subject matter, so it definitely should not be written off. While it’s not a game that you will look back at and remember fondly in years to come, it’s worth a blast as a cheap thrill, and if you are willing to overcome a small difficulty barrier, the blistering pace of the game makes it a thrilling escapade, with excitement and entertainment delivered in equal measure.
- Theme of evolution well-executed
- Old-school gameplay
- Exhilarating music
- Despite changes, it’s still just Space Invaders
- No multiplayer
- Steep difficulty curve