Old school shooter meets new platform, as an XBOX 360 favorite finds its way to the PlayStation Network.
‘Assault Heroes’ is a re-release of the 2008 XBOX 360 (2007, PC) title of the same name, now available on PSN for the original $10 price point. A traditional top-down shooter with clever vehicle mechanics, ‘Assault Heroes’ is a polished gaming distraction clearly designed with co-op mode in mind.
In a nutshell, Konami’s ‘Assault Heroes’ casts you as a lone survivor of an elite fighting force of the future, with only your vehicle – a militarized ATV or weaponized boat – to courageously take on the enemy hordes. Love those shooting game plots.
‘Assault Heroes’ features a potent, upgradeable 3-weapon system – turret, flamethrower, and flak cannon – with enough variety between firepower type to keep things interesting. Perhaps my favorite aspect of ‘Assault Heroes’ is that it doesn’t cheat (see an earlier review on ‘Matt Hazard: Blood, Bath and Beyond’ lamenting this fact).
Vehicle damage is recoverable, with complete devastation resulting in going at it on foot (or speedboat). Survive enough time sans vehicle, and a new one appears to again take the reins of. The ‘stay alive long enough’ mechanic has a certain exhilarating-slash-nervous feel to it, knowing a few more seconds of scramble and you’re home free. Of course, a couple of un-dodged bullets in this state and daisies are poking. Even during boss battles – when the vehicle: on foot seesaw can number in the dozens – this gaming aspect never frustrated.
Controls – for the most part – work quite well, with the left analog for movement, right stick to fire. Depending on terrain (especially when surrounded by limited mobility options. i.e. narrow roads), controls occasionally hiccup via imprecise movements and/or firing aim. A second annoyance emerges when a decision to deliberately go on foot (to pick-up power-ups inaccessible via vehicle) leave an ATV/boat off screen and unreachable (until a new one eventually spawns). Thankfully, such boo-boo’s are more exception than norm, plus small prices to pay for a believable, ‘I’m driving a vehicle’ feel.
‘Assault Heroes’ sports a solid save system, with zones separated into multiple, individual areas from which one can restart at last completed. For top-down shooters, revisiting boss battles and/or fun levels is arguably its greatest post-completion merit. Even more so when most of the Game’s trophies stem from niche skill versus plot completion goals.
Being a stickler for detail, the semi-interactive environments – flammable trees, exploding canisters, for instance – add a dynamic feel to what is a fairly straightforward title. These visual treats go a long way in breaking up occasionally monotonous treks through non-descript levels. Music is standard synthesizer fare, sound effects above average (nice impact sounds, enemy troop war cries). Once again, standard shooter fare.
While there’s little not to like about ‘Assault Heroes,’ it suffers, however, from the foibles of its genre in limited shelf life and in-gaming excitement. Even in chaotic, bonus, on-foot environs – thanks to the control scheme and layout bear an uncanny resemblance to ‘Smash TV’ – the yawn factor is always just around the corner. Perhaps a little more flair and/or humor indicative of the ‘Metal Slug’ series would enliven this shooter up.
The cure might lie in ‘Assault Heroes’ co-op mode, one requiring a miracle to locate a willing partner online. Even more so with a price point a bit high ($10) for what it provides. Still, if you have a gaming buddy on hand, two flamethrower wielding ATV’s are gifts that keeps on giving.
‘Assault Heroes’ is a solid – if not spectacular – top-down shooter with a new home on PSN. A semi-high price point hampers its value, but still worth a look for fans of the genre…especially in co-op.
Final Score: 7.3