Beat Hazard Ultra

OK, we reviewed Beat Hazard, last year, and we have given it quite a bit of lip service on the podcast.  If you are not familiar with Beat Hazard, check out my review, here.  Fast forward to this June, and Beat Hazard sees a major overhaul, whether or not you purchase the ‘Ultra’ DLC, remarkably priced at $4.99 on Steam and other digital retailers.  In short, if you are unfamiliar, Beat Hazard,would be the product of a union between Jerry Garcia, a pile of shrooms and Asteroids.  It uses your own music to create the environment, visuals, and waves of enemies that you will face.  So, can a game as awesome as Beat Hazard, really get better, or is this $5 that you could save for a rainy day?

What’s New

Beat Hazard has gotten a pretty awesome face-lift, even if you don’t pony up $5, for the new DLC.  If you stick with vanilla Beat Hazard, you will get the choice to play the original, unaltered game, or take the new perk system for a spin.  Only roughly 8 perks are available, for unlock, in the original game, but it does a great job of whetting your appetite, letting you know what Ultra is about, and giving you reason to take the plunge on Ultra.  In addition, you can try your skills out on the new enemies, and enjoy some really awesome, cleaned up visuals.  Now, I didn’t have any problems with the way the game looked or played before, but now everything seems to po, and borders on all of the ships and asteroids, seem much more pronounced.  So, if you buy Ultra, you just get the full list of perks, some touched up visuals, and a couple new enemies?  Well, that’s completely wrong, but, even if that were true, I might be tempted to jump in anyhow.

Ultra offers online multiplayer, new game modes, new visuals, social integration and new enemies.  To say that the game has been completely changed, is an understatement.  Where Beat Hazard offered same screen multiplayer, Ultra takes your games online, for head-to-head or co-op.  The functionality is fantastically integrated, you can either look for a match, or continue with your single player pwnage, and wait for a non-obtrusive, on-screen prompt to notify when other players are looking for a wingman.  Single player has become highly addicting, again, with the addition of perks and the new Boss Rush Mode.  I’ve included screens of the new abilities/weapons, in action, but they are the Ultra Beam, Micro Missiles, and Reflect Shield, useful for deflecting projectiles.  With all of this at your disposal, and the tried and true Bombs, don’t think Beat Hazard will go easy on you.  There are tons of new enemies, new attacks for the old enemies, and new boss characters, with their own tricky offensive endeavors.  Spider bosses and serpent bosses, are among my favorites, but the larger vessel bosses, that may look familiar, can now trap you with tractor beams, or launch squadrons of smaller vessels at you, so the action gets more intense much faster.

Now, all of those weapons, can be unlocked as perks.  There are many more perks to be unlocked, though.  Starting items, number of bombs, lives, multipliers and perks to be equipped, are also useful perks to unlock.  There are 23, in total, and a mere 10 of those can be equipped, at a time, so choose wisely!  Now, most of your perks can be leveled up, and simply unlocking them does not mean you can equip them immediately.  In order to be able to unlock a perk, you must gain enough experience to advance your rank, one unlock per rank.  Beat Hazard has integrated a currency system-enemies will drop currency, in dollar format, that you must collect.  With that currency, you can purchase or upgrade your already unlocked perks.  Perks such as adding an extra life or two, at the start, will certainly be more expensive than one that simply adds more multipliers.

The Verdict

I didn’t think that a game as stellar as Beat Hazard, could possibly get any better.  Beat Hazard Ultra has not only proved me wrong, it has rubbed my nose in it, like a puppy that messed on the carpet.  Only difference is, I am much more happy to be proven wrong here than said puppy(a puppy that co-writer Jordan DeBoer is right now saving from a toss into the furnace).  Beat Hazard was already a go-to game for me, providing hours of intense action, or relaxation, during it’s chill out mode.  The amped up visuals, and star system of new elements have just propelled that status to infinity and beyond.  If you are on the fence about Beat Hazard, go get the Steam demo, and see for yourself.  I have no qualms about telling you to go out and grab both the core game and the Ultra expansion, at $15, it’s the bargain of the century, as it will easily suck hours of your life away.  Sorry XBOX gamers, apparently LIVE could not contain the awesomeness, that is Beat Hazard Ultra, so you’ll only be able to get this awesome DLC on PC.  Shift those gears into hyperdrive, crank up the volume and get blasting!

[starreview tpl=46 size=’30’]

If you aren’t convinced yet, check out Steve Hunt’s official Blog, here.  He is the CEO of Cold Beam Games, creator of Beat Hazard, and the source for some of my screenshots showcasing the new abilities in Ultra.  There is much more detailed information, and some videos on his site, be sure to look him up!

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