A long day today, but thankfully today’s game was as slam dunk a review as you were likely to ever find. I reviewed “Beat Hazard” way, way back on Day 45. And boy is it crazy that I’m still reviewing games *1048 consecutive days later*. Back then, Beat Hazard cost 400 Microsoft Points ($5). Now, Beat Hazard has dropped to $1, and it’s significantly improved sequel, “Beat Hazard Ultra”, is the $5 game.
So what new features are there to justify paying $4 more if this is your introduction to the series, or $5 if you already have the first game? As with the first game, the visuals are stunning. Beyond stunning, really, and there’s more of everything. More enemies, more modes of play, more bosses, more weapons, and there are now upgrade options (which is new to the series). As with the first game, it’s a music visualiser for your music collection, or play with the hours of included indie tracks. But you *play* the visualiser, with enemy appearance and behaviour dictated in part by the music. Want a difference experience? Add a new track to your music collection on your Xbox 360. And ironic that this came out on the 360 shortly before the release of the PS4 (which was recently announced that there is no way to play your own music on it, the only way to do a custom soundtrack on the PS4 is to sign up for Sony’s streaming music service).
Another first for the Beat Hazard series is online play, both co-op and competitive. It also has achievement-like things (that don’t get added to your Gamerscore due to limits of the XBLIG service), and online leaderboards which is new for a Beat Hazard game. Most interesting of all to me is the ability to dial-up, or dial-down the visual craziness, a long awaited feature for this kind of game (Jeff Minter, he of Tempest 2000, was criticised for later games that went so brazenly psychedelic that they were unwatchable/unplayable, for example). Well, well worth $4.99 (or whatever that works out to in your local currency). And while I’d recommend jumping right to “Beat Hazard Ultra”, at an absolute minimum I would recommend getting the now price-reduced “Beat Hazard”.
Here’s what the developer (Cold Beam Games) has to say about the game:
“Experience YOUR music collection as never before with this intense music driven arcade shooter. Ultra adds all new bad guys, bosses, weapons, perks and game modes! Also includes co-op and head to head online play! Blast away to your favorite tracks. Watch your firepower pulse to the energy of the music. ★ 100% – ‘Must own for action gamers’ ★ 100% – ‘Must Have'”