Ahhh, shoot ’em ups. The long lived genre that has been much underappreciated. I’ve got to admit to being a big fan of them, in fact in 2018 one of the games I spent the most time with was the classic shoot ’em up adventure Sky Force Reloaded. So when the chance came to jump into one of 2019’s newest additions to the genre, I knew I had to see if we were about to get another sleeping giant of the genre. Whilst I can’t confess to enjoying it as much as the aforementioned, AngerForce: Reloaded is indeed a suitable addition to the genre.
If you’re after a story to get your teeth into then be warned – AngerForce: Reloaded isn’t the place to look for it. There is a story in there for players to follow, and it can be taken in should you want to with it all collating in one unique hub area once each new part is unlocked. But let’s be honest, if you’re here, you’re here for the shooting gameplay – as everyone knows that’s where the interest lies. AngerForce: Reloaded is no different.
From the main menu, players have several options to jump in with. There is the go-to game mode – Campaign – whilst other options include Arcade, Practice and local co-op. Besides that players can also delve into the Collection, with it providing the opportunity to view the various story snippets.
The game is set in the 19th century, and tells the tale of a robotic outbreak, a revolution of sorts. That’s about it from the start and by progressing through AngerForce: Reloaded, you can unlock further additional informative continuations that help paint the overall picture of what’s going on, and why you’re doing what you are.
Unfortunately initial impressions aren’t good and it is in the main menu where the first issues come about – the loading times. See, as the game is found transitioning into the Campaign offering, the loading screens take some time. I’m not just talking a few minutes longer, but rather I thought my console had frozen.
Once you’re away from them though, then there is very little to stop you from enjoying things and whether you go it alone or jump in co-operatively with a friend, it’s fair to say there is plenty of joy to be had blasting away at the many enemies that litter the scrolling screen.
All in all there are seven unique levels and ten bosses to beat within the Campaign, but whilst there aren’t a lot of levels to be going on with, the difficulties included all provide a unique challenge that can see the required time and skill it takes to get to the end increase vastly. On the easiest difficulty, there are just three different levels to beat, normal brings it up to five levels, and hard – which you unlock by beating the previous two options – brings the seven. It’s an interesting way to extend the gameplay, but it works well and will certainly ensure you keep coming back. Should you fancy a run through of the Arcade mode instead, then you’ll find a neat collection of levels that ensure plenty of incredibly varied action can be had, and it’s a great way to enjoy AngerForce further once you’ve already finished up with the Campaign offering.
In all honesty though it doesn’t really matter what game mode you choose, the overall experience you’re going to have is somewhat similar regardless. That doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable though and if you’re a fan of shoot ’em ups then you’ll absolutely love what’s on offer here, with fast and fluid combat, bullet-hell type gameplay and a truly challenging difficulty that will test even genre veterans – at least until you’ve maxed out your characters.
Whilst there may only be a handful of levels, there are still as many as four unique characters to pick from, with Samhill, Asimo, Shin and Echo all readily available. Each character brings their own specials, attacks and traits and should you want to make it to the end then you’re first going to need to find the one which suits you best.
Asimo is my personal favourite thanks to boosted health that is ideal, whilst the lower attacking power simply means having to be a little more patient within each level. Besides the attacks, each character also holds unique traits that vary and each one will again require you to learn which you feel most comfortable with. That said, none of them feel particularly unfair, and share a surprisingly equal footing.
Once you mastered all of that then you can get stuck into the character upgrade tree with points earned by beating the various bosses. Some upgrade points will be general ones that can be applied to all your characters – improved damage and higher health – whilst set character upgrades can go straight into your skill tree for the specified character. With tons to unlock, this is something that will certainly take quite some time.
It’s good to see that the controls are super easy to pick up too, with the left stick controlling movement, LT and RT giving a faster or slower speed, X utilising the attack, A attached to the bomb-filled super move, charge tied to B, and LB and RB used for your characters abilities. The good thing about the simplicity here is that it allows you to put all your focus into learning the enemy’s pattern of attacks and how best to take them down. In the end the only real way is to continue peppering them with attacks, but learning their patterns will certainly ensure you have the best chance at surviving.
At the end of each level – and occasionally during – players will arrive at a boss battle and these certainly provide a typical experience with impressive intros, tons of health to chip away at and powerful attacks. Should you be playing on hard you’ll also find the bosses have multiple different forms meaning you’ll need to beat each one to take them down – and if that’s not the perfection of a classic ’90s shoot ’em up, I don’t know what is.
Visually and once more AngerForce: Reloaded on Xbox One impresses. Like many shoot ’em ups before it AngerForce utilises the edge of the screens for vital information such as score, kill rank, energy levels, health and so on, whilst the action takes place centrally, leaving you to make your way from the bottom to the top of the screen, blasting through a vast amount of enemies and watching your scores sky-rocket.
It goes without saying that AngerForce: Reloaded is a fantastic little game. It’s nice to see a game come along that can truly rival the genre greats and even though it may be short in length, there is enough included to ensure replay value is plentiful. The content is enjoyable, and both the visuals and audio encapsulate the experience, so if you’re a fan of the genre then this is one of the best releases to arrive on Xbox One in 2019. It’s full of action, it’s easy on the eye and it continues to reward for as long as you pump time into it. AngerForce: Reloaded is a fantastic effort and a memorable scrolling shooter.