Beat Hazard

Have you ever played a game that used your own MP3’s?  Have you ever wanted to hearken back to Asteroids form the Atari?  Did you enjoy Audiosurf, but couldn’t help thinking if there was a better way to “play” your music?  Have you ever muted Geometry Wars in favor of your own tunes?  If you answered yes to any of those, then I implore you to take Beat Hazard for a spin, you won’t regret it—you can find it on Steam or Direct2Drive on PC, or the XBOX LIVE Indie games section!

Can you find your ship in this mess? CAPTAIN, WE NEED MOOORE POWERRRRR!

The Gameplay

Beat Hazard, by Cold Beam Games, is a twin stick shooter that creates enemies and illumination based on the music you put into it.  You control your spaceship with the left analog stick and aim your blasts with the right stick.  Unlike Asteroids, there are a lot more ships that fire back and a lot bigger and badder ships for you to take down.  The game creates waves of enemies and lighting effects based on the MP3’s playing in the background, so theoretically, no two games will be reproduced.  The more the bass thumps, the more your weapons fir and the atmosphere around you glitters in response to the music.  Some games have more asteroids then enemies, some games have an unending wave of “boss” ships that far outsize and outgun you-all based on the rhythm and beats of the song you choose.  Your task is simple—don’t die before the song ends.  You start with 3 lives and 2 superbombs to help get you out of jams, and the frenzied gameplay begins.  While killing enemies, you can find powerups to raise your score multiplier or ones that will increase your weapon and song volume strength—boost the volume and your weapons to maximum to become a Beat-Hazard, and score the most points for as long as that life lasts.  You also get score multiplier boosts for Surviving for increments of 30 seconds, or not firing for short periods and earning a ‘Daredevil’ bonus.  At the onset, you start with the song volume and your weapons at minimum, but game progression will allow you to unlock better bonuses for the start–eventually allowing you to start off a song at Beat-Hazard capacity.  Difficulty levels range from ‘Easy’ to ‘Insane’, with the last two levels not unlocked until you complete some substantial tasks in the other levels.  You can choose to play in a Single Player single song round, a Survival mode–in which you pick the starting song and the playlists will continue for as many songs as you can survive–or you can play a ‘Chill Out Mode’, where you just relax and play along to the music with infinite lives(similar to survival, but without throwing the kitchen sink at you).  If that’s not enough, you can try out the games two player modes – Head to Head and Co-Op.  The game features 25 Achievements, Leaderboards and included music for you to try out, although it won’t be long before you are scouring your MP3 collection and throwing them all at Beat-Hazard to try out.  Beat-Hazard also supports XBOX 360 gamepads, which, in my opinion, are much easier to control the game with.

The Verdict

I know that the gameplay sounds simple, and the game like a one-trick-pony, but I’m telling you this is next-gen Tetris gold that Cold Beam Games has struck.  I find myself using Beat-Hazard as a go-to game for anytime I just want to relax.  I can very easily challenge myself to try and last through a multitude of songs on the higher difficulties, or just mellow out and playthrough an album or playlist with the Chill Out Mode.  It’s one of those games that sucks you in to the “one more song” mentality, as you watch 4 hours drift away in the blink of an eye.  Even better, this is a game that I can enjoy with the kids in either Co-Op or Head to Head.  I can’t recommend the game highly enough, it’s well worth the ten dollars you will spend on it, especially if you have a significant other or children that game with you.  One caveat I will throw out there, if you do want to enjoy the PC version, I would certainly recommend getting at least one XBOX 360 gamepad to use with the two player settings(maybe even two, if neither of you are comfortable with the PC controls).  Forget air guitar, this is truly the way to play your music!

[starreview tpl=46 size=’30’]

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