Monday 18 May 2015

Ultratron Review (PS4/Vita)

Hot off the back of Space Invaders inspired Titan Attacks comes Puppy Games’ take on the Robotron formula. We suspect that there other ‘inspired by’ games may not be far behind and this is no bad thing. 

Ultratron uses the graphical style that Puppy Games has become known for. The blocky robot like enemies, pixelated distortion and cyber voices are all in effect and the music is of a suitably high quality to build tension and complement the action.

With games which borrow so heavily from classics it’s all about the execution and Ultratron has a pretty good go at trying to recreate the Robotron feeling of blasting panic. It does take a while to get going but once you get towards the end of the second world it’s all very chaotic and there is never a shortage of things to blast.

The action is relentless and some suitable bosses are waiting at the end of each of the four sections which require destruction via blowing off various bits. There is a wide variety of enemy types from the standard drones to missile firing ones and robots that have shields or spread poison across the play area. Chances are you’ll just be blasting everything though in a desperate bid to survive.

You can collect money during each round and then use this to upgrade your little robot at the end. There are a whole host of upgrades ranging from more shields and bombs to little robot helper pets and tools like EMP blasts. It encourages a second play through to try and fully upgrade and the choices on offer certainly add to the core formula. 

For everything good the game does it sadly has a fair few bizarre design decisions that can really impact on the game. The first of these is that messages and information are displayed in the bottom left of the screen. This wouldn’t be an issue normally but sometimes they can take up around a quarter of the play area making it impossible to see what is going on - A crazy decision in a twitch blaster like this.

The colour scheme also causes numerous problems as enemies and bullets can simply blend into the background. This issue eased when we removed all the visual filters but it was still very difficult to see things at times. The screen is also far too cluttered with nonsense information and symbols. There is simply too much for most players to take in and distinguishing what is useful to you and what isn’t requires thought processing power of super hero like proportions.

 All the screen clutter and noise means feedback for things like when you get hit is also almost impossible to distinguish.  If you have all three helpers on the go with their different range arcs and messages popping up it is just chaos and not in a good way. There’s also a bit of a level up problem in that if you haven’t upped  your speed you’ll fight all the way to the last boss only to have it crush you in a few seconds because your robot is just too slow to move away from it.

Despite all this we actually quite enjoyed Ultratron. When it flows it’s really quite an enjoyable distraction and the style in quite endearing. There are some nice little touches like your robot helpers yelping when they get hit and there’s some good imagination on show.

Overall, Ultratron is a fun game but one with a few too many design floors to recommend it to everyone. If you are a fan of the style of Titan Attacks then you should enjoy this as well and it’s certainly the better game of the two. There may be numerous niggling irritations but there’s also an intense shooter here as well and very little else like it on PSN currently.

Overall 7/10

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