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ThreadSpace: Hyperbol

Score: 75%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Atari
Developer: Iocaine Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 16 (Online)
Genre: Shooter/ Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

ThreadSpace: Hyperbol has a simple visual style that gets the job done, but isn't anything super fantastic. But seeing as this is an indie title for only $20.00 on Steam, most people shouldn't expect Triple A graphics. What Hyperbol has is sleek blacks, lots of transparencies and high-contrasted colors to make each of the game's visual elements stand out.

The game's audio is about par with the graphics. For the most part, the music and sound effects get the job done and keep the feel in place, but aren't really all that memorable once you shut the game off.


Gameplay:

ThreadSpace: Hyperbol is an arena-based multiplayer space-shooter. You will manipulate your ship in a field of battle filled with opposing ships and other obstacles in order to defeat all the opponents

Arenas come in varying shapes and sizes. Some might be a single square plane, while another map might have offshoots and more intricate designs. But in order to succeed in this game, you will have to pilot your ship around the board, launch modules (which generate different types of weapons) and take over enemy turrets.

There are a couple of different aspects of your ship and its weapons that really add some depth to this game. First, there is the weapon system. Not only can you launch out pieces of machinery that create different types of weapons, but firing the weapons themselves can be quite an involved task.

Before firing your weapons, you line them up along the game's 2D plane and then add spin to them. By adding spin, you can have your Plasma curve around walls or hit repulser fields (areas that cause projectiles to bend or bounce away from the field's source) at just the right angle to achieve your goal. Most weapons, like Plasma Bolts and Cluster Bombs react immediately to the curve, but some, like Rockets, require you to "activate" them before they actually change course.

Most weapons need to be "activated." This means that some secondary action occurs that makes the weapon more effective. In the case of the Cluster Bombs, activating it causes the bomb to explode. Other more interesting weapons like Pulse Cannon/Target Beacon combo require a bit more skill and strategy but can be really effective.

The other aspect that really adds a lot to this game are the various Ship Forms. These are different states your ship can make that affect everything from how well enemies can target you, to how your weapons behave, to repairing your ship (and your turrets near you) and many other things. This was an interesting aspect to the game, but most of these forms take up energy and, in a lot of cases, when I ran out of energy and the effects wore off, I felt like a sitting duck. But maybe that was more of a failure on my part strategically than the game's.

ThreadSpace: Hyperbol has three types of gameplay: Objective, Arena and Deathmatch. Deathmatch is pretty standard, you keep coming back after you are killed and when the time is up, the player with the most frags wins. Arena is a Last Man Standing game where you are only given one life and Objective is a team-based event where each person on your team has 32 lives to complete a set of goals.


Difficulty:

Like all multiplayer, arena-based games, ThreadSpace: Hyperbol can be difficult if you are facing opponents who are really familiar with the controls and objectives of the game. So naturally, the best way to make the game easier is to get really familiar with the controls. Unfortunately that isn't all that easy to do, but that's a discussion for the next section.

The game has a wide variety of arenas that, like the controls, will require you to get really familiar with them in order to excel in this game. Again, like most arena games, the difficulty is all based on how well you can navigate the terrain as well as your familiarity with the same terrain.


Game Mechanics:

One of the aspects of ThreadSpace: Hyperbol that really hinders its playability is the complexity of the game and its desire to make you use many keys on the keyboard, as well as a number of awkward ones.

Not only do you need to use your mouse abundantly in order to move your ships and fire your weapons, you will also need to keep your other hand on the keyboard in order to aim and activate your weapons, as well as effectively navigate your ship.

Keys like (Z), (X) and (C) are used to add spin to your weapon before you fire it, while some weapons require you to hit the spacebar to activate their abilities. I guess my biggest gripe with the keyboard layout is the unusual placement of these keys. You might say, why wouldn't the developers have just used the (A), (S) and (D) keys. Well that's because with the Left Shift, you can manipulate the camera as if it were an FPS (so you need the WSAD keys).

So, you can use FPS camera manipulation (if you hold down the shift), or you can rotate, zoom and move the camera with various mouse clicks. You can probably tell already how complex the controls are since we have already gone through a lot and I haven't even talked about moving your ship itself.

Hyperbol just feels like it is way more complex than it needs to be and it really tears down the fun-factor of the game. I can only imagine that there is a niche for this game, but even the targeted gamers might find it a bit too much to digest.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows 2000/XP/Vista, DirectX9.0c or higher, Graphics Accelerator with 32-bit color support (DirectX9-Supported Accelerator recommended), 1.0GHz or faster processor, 256MB of RAM, 250MB of hard disk space, An internet connection (for multiplayer)
 

Test System:



Alienware Aurora m9700 Laptop, Windows XP Professional, AMD Turion 64 Mobile 2.41 GHz, 2 GB Ram, Duel NVIDIA GeForce Go 7900 GS 256MB Video Cards, DirectX 9.0c

Sony PlayStation 2 SingStar 80's Windows Destination: Treasure Island

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated