The shoot ‘em up genre (Shmup) hasn’t received a ton of love over the last several years besides a few cult favorites like Geometry Wars. Aside from repackaging some old products and a handful of compilations there really hasn’t been anything hitting American shores worth mentioning. While Square Enix might have the pedigree of bringing great Shmups out (namely Einhander) they sadly don’t change anything with the release of 0 Day: Attack on Earth.
The most notable thing about 0 Day is the games graphics. It looks absolutely amazing for both a downloadable game and a Shmup, something that has been a rarity for the last couple of years. The three areas in the game do a good enough job of putting memorable landmarks from the cities that they are supposed to represent. It is unfortunate that the same can’t be said with how the enemies interact with the environment, as when the background is damaged it instantly manages to repair itself. It can also be difficult to judge the height of some buildings in the background; sometimes you fly right over them, other times you hit them and take damage.
The game controls like a party based Geometry Wars, and sadly that is pretty much the only positive thing that can be said about it. There are four player controlled ships on the map at all times, regardless if other people are playing. This wouldn’t be a massive issue if the game’s friendly AI had anything that resembled a will to survive. Calling them worthless would deflate the value of the word. They are so terrible that they constantly ignore enemies, refuse to use their weapons, and fly straight into death’s waiting hands. This commonly results in bouncing the player into death as well.
In most Shmups, death is a guarantee mainly through blinding difficulty and harsh learning curve. 0 Day manages to keep the death rate up, but through cheap enemy tactics, bad screen positioning, and bullet sponge enemies. The game commonly throws an enemy at the player in the midst of a rather large explosion only to have it latch onto the ship, causing an inevitable death. Many enemies also have a reach that extends through the entire screen, offering little to no place to hide or avoid.
The enemies in the game change depending on what city they are in: the ones in New York monsters look inspired by Cloverfield, the ones in Tokyo are largely mecha based, and Paris has things that seem to be mainly amphibian like. The designs are rather interesting and pretty detailed on the first encounter. Strangely, the game shows all of the enemies in new areas in the first level, meaning that besides the boss for that section the game has shown everything it has for about the next hour.
The boss battles themselves are probably the best part. All three of them seem to change up the flow, from a giant floating tower thing to the classic giant snake that flies around the level, all of them are interesting and fun to fight. Sadly there are only three of them, and are dispatched rather quickly. The fights themselves are so good that the entire game might have been worth a purchase if it had only been boss fights, and there were more of them (say 10).
As a game that is designed to be co-op it isn’t even able to pull that off without issue. Trying to find a random match online never works, because no one else is playing it, which soon after release doesn’t bode well. When I was able to get into a game with a friend it seemed to be riddled with lag for the player not hosting. The moment that the session ended it dumped both players back to the start of that city, in single player, making it entirely impossible to keep a game going.
The cost of the game is another massive strike against it. At 15 dollars (1200 Microsoft points) the game is a rather hefty investment. 21 levels with 3 rather interesting boss fights might seem like a large chunk of content, but it isn’t. Most of the levels are simply repeats of previous ones that do little to distinguish themselves.
0 Day had a lot of really good things going for it, great graphics, enjoyable boss fights, and interesting enemy design. Sadly all of that falls apart pretty quickly when the game isn’t even fun to play. While the concept of the game seems to be sound, a Geometry Wars inspired co-op shooter; everything seems to work against it, especially the price.
Not As Good As: Raiden Fighters Aces
Also Try: Smash TV
Wait For It: Geometry Wars III
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