Review: Beat Hazard Ultra iOS

So I decided to write a review for Beat Hazard Ultra on iOS by Coldbeam Games but quickly realized that my thoughts on this game would sound more like a sales pitch than a review. Instead of pretending that I am Mr. Unbiased Game Journalist, Sr., I figured I would just tell it like it is and explain why you’re an idiot if you don’t own this game already why you should just go ahead and click that ‘Purchase’ button.

For the uninformed, Beat Hazard Ultra is a twin stick shooter in the vein of Geometry Wars or Smash TV for the old-schoolers. You control a ship, moving around a confined rectangular space and dodging/shooting obstacles such as asteroids and enemy ships. You’re hooked, right? No? Well, let me explain what sets Beat Hazard Ultra apart from the other App Store swill. Hold on to your butts.

One of Beat Hazard Ultra’s biggest selling points is that the game uses your music as the soundtrack, and gameplay is dynamically affected by the tempo and intensity of the song. Chilling to some Jack Johnson? The game won’t throw the kitchen sink at you. Start blasting your dubstep tracks, though, and you best be prepared to work them thumbs! Those with puny music libraries can still play to a set of genre-specific internet radio stations. Beat Hazard is also gorgeous! It pushes the iPhone’s (4/4S) Retina Display to the limit, with seizure-inducing effects during combat (no really, the first loading screen is a warning about seizures and strobing effects). While I haven’t played it on an iPhone 3G or 3GS, the game does have a graphical slider to tone down the graphics if needed. Additionally, the game has a variety of modes and is surprisingly deep for an iOS title. From a standard “play a song and try to stay alive/score high” mode to an endless “Survival” mode to a “Boss Rush” mode that pits you against the baddest baddies of the game in a Horde-esque mode of increasing waves of difficulty, the game will keep you coming back for more. Throughout all modes are cash collectibles that can be used for buying perks and upgrades that add depth and survival time. Last but not least are the Leaderboards. Few things are more satisfying than besting your Game Center amigos’ scores in the various modes of the game.

The cons of the game are few and infinitesimal, but I’ll throw them in for good measure. The game defaults to a control scheme of “floating” thumbsticks, which is basically “wherever you put your thumbs, there are your thumbsticks.” While options are nice, this scheme doesn’t ever let you get used to the position of the thumbsticks and, consequently, causes spongier control that can lead to accidental deaths. I highly recommend changing to fixed controls from the start. As earlier mentioned, if you don’t have a decent music library already, you’re missing out on a good portion of the game. The internet radio stations, while diverse, may not suit every person’s taste like their own library would. Also, though you can play twin stick or single stick with auto-fire, you always have a thumb on screen, which does cover up some screen real estate that could be advantageous to see. This game would benefit from an accessory like the icontrolpad, but it is still quite playable without.

This iOS game (iPhone, iTouch, iPad) is a must-buy. It has quickly overtaken my “go-to” games as a good time-killer, whether it’s a few minutes or an hour. Go buy this game. Pretty please. With sugar on top. And a cherry. Unless you don’t like cherries. Then a Reese cup.

Oh, and if it wasn’t obvious, this game gets a 10.


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