Mutant Storm Empire Review

You may remember another dual joystick shooter that was released around the 360’s launch called Mutant Storm Reloaded. To say it was overshadowed by Geometry Wars would be quite a large understatement. It’s not that it was bad; it just wasn’t Geometry Wars, a game some were calling “the best reason to purchase a 360.” So now, a few years later, developer Pom Pom games is back with level-based gameplay and are ready to kick some XBLA booty.

Frankly, I didn’t care for Reloaded when it came out. It stunk of the pungent aroma of the been there done that robotron/asteroids formula despite having nifty graphics and animations. Thankfully, they have managed to fix that with Empire…kind of.

Empire is very similar to Assault Heroes in that you have levels that you progress through and fight a boss at the end of the fourth. The enemies are, like the levels themselves, fairly typical in execution, but what makes them shine are their top-notch animations and colorful nature. Surprisingly enough, this game is a stand-out title on XBLA in terms of graphical quality.

The gameplay in Empire features a rather unique combo system that when utilized, can add a much-needed element of depth to the otherwise generic gameplay. By killing a pre-determined amount of a certain type of enemy in a row, you are awarded a multiplier bonus. Keep it up and you can raise your multiplier. There’s a handy dandy counter in the upper-middle of the screen to remind you of how many more you need of that enemy to get the bonus, so there’s no need to keep track of it yourself, although, on higher difficulties the enemies become so overwhelming that taking a fraction of a second to check your combo meter might mean death.

Plug in a second controller, or alternatively go online, and you and a friend can go through the levels together. If your friend isn’t very good and you’re going for a high score, you should probably just ask him to sit this one out as both of you share the same health bar. Because of this though, the gameplay becomes highly rewarding when you and your teammate start doing very well at the higher difficulty settings, even much more than if you were to each have separate health bars.

Mutant Storm Empire manages to change the formula of its predecessor just enough to make it feel like a different game, but not by much. The two player cooperative mode has also remained intact and, like Reloaded, remains the more enjoyable way to play. Since it doesn’t do much different, it remains a fairly hard-sell at 800 Microsoft Points, but if you’re a fan of dual joystick shooters, you’ve probably already purchased it.


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Author: Kyle Stallock View all posts by

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