While the vertical coin-operated machines that once haunted beachfront arcades around the UK maybe becoming a part video game history, their legacy has continued on through neon soaked downloadable titles. Having already proven itself with Star Dust HD, developer Housemarque seems like the perfect candidate to continue this trend with its new PS4 exclusive, Resogun, a reinterpretation of the arcade classic Defender.
As with all such arcade experiences, Resogun’s main mechanics are incredibly simple. Shooting either left or right, you control a single ship as they defend the last of humanity from the florescent invading forces. No problem there then, and with constant power ups slowly increasing each of the three available ships abilities, even the bosses are not insurmountable providing you keep your wits about as you dodge through the swarms of bullets.
Each craft is not limited to simple guns. The now standard level flattening ‘bombs’ are joined by two other powerful abilities. The first of these is ‘Overdrive’, which slows time allowing the destruction of almost any opponent with ease. This is topped off by the more tactical ‘boost’ power, which can be used to either escape an attacking horde or to help build the score multiplier.
It is in hunting those high scores that Resogun gets tricky. Multipliers only build while you are actively killing the myriad of enemies, but while the screen is regularly flooded, there are periods of silence when being aware of the entire play field is necessary if you want to prevent the score booster resetting.
The final thing that must be managed is rescuing humanity (yes, that is last on the list). Each stage has ten people trapped in boxes, waiting for your interstellar taxi service to arrive. But it is only by destroying specific enemies that these cage are broken to allow them to be saved, while also leaving them exposed to attack if they are not quickly collected.
Where Resogun differs from the back-and-forth side scrolling classics it imitates is that the whole play field is constantly visible. By placing the action on a curved plain that wraps around on itself, the game looks like a transparent phonograph cylinder of explosions, a look that is not only practical but also visually stunning.
Like other reinventions of these arcade favourites, Resogun is filled with neon and partial effects. The 1080 display and 60fps show this off beautifully, as the screen fills with every shade imaginable and the various glittering pieces of debris spill from destroyed ships and buildings.
Along side the striking visuals design comes the wonderful soundscape the game creates. Deep, bass filled, booms are joined by firework like cracks and snaps as each enemy craft is dispatched, which work wonderfully with the synth sound track.
For such a score driven game the multiplayer is suprisingly well represented. Playing online both players can exist in their own play field, enabling them to wiz around independently, while always being able to see what the other player is up to.
Though it adds little to the overall gameplay, it is always fun to gun things down with friends. That and, with Resogun’s checkpoint/continue system, this mode also proves the easiest way to unlock all of the game’s 5 stages.
Resogun’s frenetic reinterpretation of Defender does little new, but fantastic presentation and tight controls make this a highlight of the PS4 launch line up. It’s being free to Playstation Plus subscribers, just proves the icing on the cake.