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Xyanide

Score: 82%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Evolved Games
Developer: Playlogic
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Arcade/ Shooter/ Third Person Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

Graphically, Evolved Games’ Xyanide is on the lower end of what you may expect from a late-generation Xbox title, at least as far as the in-game visuals go. While playing the game, you’ll see many mechanical-looking objects and enemies, which may seem like nothing new. On the cut-scene side, however, the visuals are outstanding. Hard to describe, I get a sense of watching films like Dune and The Fifth Element. The beauty of the cut-scene is that you’ll be treated to great texturing, simulated cloth, and a style and color pallette not usually seen in video games.

The audio of Xyanide is similar to the in-game visuals in that it is nothing special, but at the same time very fitting. The sound fx keep you in the game, while the music tracks help sell the mood that Xyanide represents. But if you don’t like it, you’ll also be able to set up your custom play list from your Xbox’s hard drive.


Gameplay:

Gradius, Zaxxon, and Sewer Shark are a few games that immediately come to mind when I sit down to play Xyanide. Picture this: you’re in a ship with a third-person view, traveling through corridors and other enclosed spaces, while boat-loads of enemies come at your from all angles. Combine that with your spaceship’s path being on "tracks" (but still with the ability to choose your path once in a while), an overbearing amount of on-screen colors and other busy-work, and a camera that changes from rear view to a front or side view often in the middle of combat, and you have a unique experience worth trying.

However, some of this game's strengths are also its weaknesses. In particular, the screen is so "busy" at times with all of the colors and moving objects that it can hinder your ability to keep track of the dangers that are continuously heading your way in the form of enemy ships and the weapons coming from them. The moving camera can often add to that frustration, because off-screen enemies can sometimes come in unexpectedly and wipe you out. However, this confusion usually has a bit of breathing room, because most enemies will be in the background for a few seconds before being at the same "level" as your ship on-screen (meaning that they can come from the background). When that happens, they will glow red to warn you that you can now collide with them, which is another great feature of Xyanide.

This shooter is very shallow when you look at it as a whole. There really are only two game modes, and one of those is just to play unlocked levels over again from the Arcade Mode. Sure, there's two-player support, but that just makes things even more difficult to grasp during the on-screen madness. What is cool for fans of great shooters such as this is that there are a TON of weapon mutations to go through as you progress. However, the arcade style of the game makes for a difficult experience, with only two continues to get you through the six levels, which also include bosses that can sometimes take a lot of time to defeat.


Difficulty:

Xyanide may be something that anyone can pick up and play, but by looking above, you can see that Xyanide really isn't an easy game to master. Maybe it's just me, but the colors and clutter on-screen make it very difficult at times to pick out enemies and their incoming missiles. The camera movement isn't intrusive for the majority of gameplay, but it can hinder your ability to make things out simply by rotating at just the wrong time. Finally, since it's an arcade game, you'll be able to continue and regain your initial four lives. But considering the fact that you can easily get disoriented, these lives may go fast.

Game Mechanics:

As any great shooter of its style does, Xyanide takes full advantage of using dual analog sticks to control your fighter. Using the right stick as your primary firing weapon, you simply shoot in the direction you’re holding. The triggers are perfect as well, with one switching to secondary firing (missiles), and the other switching between organic (good for smaller enemies) and mechanical weapons (good for larger enemies). The face buttons are used as well, but during the fast-twitch action that is Xyanide, sometimes these are a bit more awkward to press when urgently needed.

Xyanide is a great game for fans of shooters to either rent or pick up. The action gets frantic, which will likely be a plus for most fans, but may be overwhelming for others. Unfortunately, the game isn't that deep when looking at it as an overall product, which makes renting first a better idea. Two-player support does help keep the reply value slightly higher, however. The bottom line is that if you’ve been a fan of games like Gradius and Zaxxon, but want to experience them in a pseudo 3D environment, then Xyanide may be for you.


-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

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