I’m a big fan of games like Star Control 2, Armada on Dreamcast, and StarLancer. They are all games that meld space opera combat with a storyline that evolves with the action. Add “SCHAR: Blue Shield Alliance” to that list.
Mechanically, the game has you shooting alien ships, collecting salvage, and upgrading your ships. There’s a nice element of strategy (well, more to the point, tactics I suppose) as you have to decide how to deploy your salvage both during a match, and to what elements of your ship(s) after the match. You’re also tasked with guarding facilities, ships, and resources, so the levels are reasonably varied.
Speaking of your fleet, you can control ships with quite varying attributes and special abilities. The ship selection and upgrading it quite satisfying; just enough to add lots of depth to the game, but not so much that it’s overwhelming. It’s especially satisfying in co-op mode where each of you can control ships of different classes, with different strengths, and co-ordinate with each other to maximise those advantages.
Presentation is clean and attractive, and “SCHAR: Blue Shield Alliance” is easily worth 80 Microsoft Points.
Here’s what the developer (BA Productions) has to say about the game:
“Blue Shield Alliance is a twin stick shooter featuring strategy elements that takes place after Mankind has traveled across three star systems and multiple planets within, crossing an aggressive force known only as CoNs. Striking sci-fi visuals and dynamic music combine with disparate missions for hours of intriguing gameplay and overall replay value.”