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Aces of the Galaxy

Score: 82%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Sierra
Developer: Artech
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Shooter/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Like any good shooter, Aces of the Galaxy fills nearly all the available real estate on the screen. In one area, you might be zooming through an asteroid field while in the next, you're stuck in the middle of a battle between two massive fleets. However, some pieces of space debris can take up large chunks of your viewing area, leaving you little room to maneuver. This assures that you'll always be on the edge of your seat, though it also makes some areas feel overcrowded and can lead to cheap damage to your ship.

Each of the sectors you visit has its own look, so there's a bit of visual variety. The visuals aren't super complex, but they more than get the job done and the game moves along at a steady clip with no slowdown -- which is pretty impressive when you consider how much stuff in on the screen.

Sound is what it is. The music fits the game's mood and tempo nicely, though you probably won't remember it because of the constant gunfire, explosions and other battle sounds going on around you.


You are a human pilot who manages to steal an experimental star fighter. Somehow or another, this makes you humanity's last hope and target number one for most of the galaxy. Aces of the Galaxy's story isn't complex, though anything more than what you're given probably would have slowed down the pacing of the gameplay.

Aces of the Galaxy is a straightforward, on-rails shooter similar to Starfox. Every mission is a linear romp through waves of enemies as you try to make it from Point A to Point B. Although you are given some flexibility in your path through each level, you are always going forward. The same goes for the overall game structure. After completing each level, you can travel to one of three systems and blast more enemies.

Although the underlying gameplay is fun, Aces of the Galaxy begins to wear on you after a few plays. The option of choosing a different path through the game offers some replay value, though you're really just doing the same thing each level without any major variations other than the boss character that harasses you throughout each level. You can also take a friend into battle with you, though even this has its limits.


Even on the easiest of the three difficulty levels, Aces of the Galaxy can be a challenge. Though it never ventures into "Bullet Hell" territory, it keeps you on your toes and constantly moving. There's rarely something on-screen that can't cause some sort of damage. If a few ships are in your way, you can usually blast them out the sky and keep going forward; but if a big piece of debris wanders into your path, expect a few dings in your ship's armor. The latter of the two is the only aspect that seems "unfair", especially since even the quickest of reflexes can't save you.

You're given three lives, which helps take some of the edge off unavoidable crashes. However, dying also sends you back to the beginning of the level, which has a way of getting on your nerves, especially if you're close to the end when you die.

Game Mechanics:

Action takes place from behind your star fighter. The left stick steers, while pressing the two trigger buttons performs barrel rolls to the left and right. You also have the ability to slow down time, which comes in handy during later missions. Your ship also comes equipped with the ability to scan for hidden ships, though this feature seems out of place with the rest of the game. If the function were vital to mission goals, it would make sense. However, the ability is really just an excuse to include invisible enemies that add little to the experience - especially since using it leaves you open to attack.

You have three weapons to take out enemy ships; a machine gun, homing missiles and torpedoes. The machine gun is the weapon you'll rely upon most, while your homing missiles come with the ability to lock-on to targets, which is great for fast moving enemies. Torpedoes are best used only in situations when you know you have a clear shot. They do a nice amount of damage, but are incredibly slow and take some time to launch.

All three can be upgraded, though finding upgrades is usually a chore. Some will appear in the distance and, no matter how much you try to push your ship in their direction, they remain unattainable. When you do manage to score an upgrade, you lose it at the end of the level, which just feels wrong.

Aces of the Galaxy isn't the best shooter available on XBLA, but it is solid enough that it should satisfy the more hardcore fans of the genre.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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