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Aniquilation Review

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The world of video games isn’t awash, to the best of my knowledge, with developers from Columbia, but there is at least one – R-Next Games, the developers of Aniquilation. Published by Gamera Games, Aniquilation promises not just a weird name, but also plenty of shooty action in a twin-stick style. 

Whatever the game, the first port of call for me is the story – why are we rampaging around a galaxy, shooting anything that moves and most of the things that don’t? Well, the reason is pretty simple, it turns out. 

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It appears that the entire civilisation of our home planet has been built around a liquid metal that acts as a power source, and one day, this liquid metal corroded and disappeared. This caused a little consternation, as I’m sure you can imagine, and so the search was launched to find a replacement for this energy source. Heading out into the galaxy and as we are flying around in space, we find a collection of tiny asteroids that seem to have life and civilisation about them; it is this which sets the scene for a showdown. Let’s do it to them before they do it to us, eh?

All this plays out quite well visually and the graphics found in Aniquilation are pretty nice, if a little hard to wrap your head around. You see, when I said that the planets we were exploring were tiny, I wasn’t kidding – you can do a circuit of the whole planetoid in a couple of seconds, or at least you could if there weren’t three million enemies in the way. Our spaceship, the enemies and the landscapes all look pretty nice, and once it all kicks off, there are more explosions than you can shake a stick at. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that there are almost too many particle effects going on!

The sound of the various weapons and the enemies themselves, along with the sound of those two elements coming into contact, is all very nice, and certainly, sitting back and observing, Aniquilation is pretty good fun. The screen where you travel between asteroids in search of more prey is also pretty groovy, being an into-the-screen flying type affair where you can gather extra resources by flying in circles around the edge of the screen and avoiding great big rocks and girders. It breaks the action up nicely. 

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But, what about the way that the game plays? Well, here the news is more mixed as there are two ways to play: either alone or co-op against the AI in a story mode, if you will; or via a separate PvP playlist. These multiplayer modes are only available to local players which seems like a bit of a missed opportunity to humiliate friends over the online scenes, but it is what it is. 

I’ll look at the single player/co-op game mode first of all, as the mechanics found here will carry over to the PvP realm. 

Combat is the name of the game in every mode, and it plays out in a variety of ways. You have the standard twin stick shooter controls, and you can do all the usual things like fly one way while shooting the other and so on. The aiming here is very good, and you can have a high degree of certainty that you will hit what you are shooting at. However, weapons have only finite ammo, and so in order to keep bringing the pain, you have other resources at your disposal. The first of these is a honking great sword that is nailed to the front of your ship. This is a multi purpose blade (a swiss army sword?) in that it can not only damage foes, but can also be used to reflect projectiles and enemy ships back in the direction they came from. This is useful in some of the later levels, where the buildings we need to knock down are shielded, but we can bounce enemy ships into them and destroy them that way. Some enemies also only seem weak to their own reflected bullets, and so this a good tactic to remember in the infrequent giant boss creature stages. 

The second ability your ship has is a shield that can be used to negate all incoming damage for a little while, at the cost of not being able to shoot while it is active. This is used much more as a “get out of jail free” card for when you are overwhelmed; popping the shield and dashing off to a bit of free space and gathering your wits is a very good tactic. Using these abilities, in addition to weapons that you can pick up (there are apparently five different types, but to be fair, as long as they shoot when you pull the trigger, that’s really all that matters!) will see you progressing nicely. 

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The PvP section feels like a bit of an afterthought; less of interest for someone who would much rather play cooperatively instead. There are however a total of four game modes in this playlist – there is a kind of football game, a free for all, a defend the base type affair, and a variation on tag, where you have to pass a virus to each other and stay as illness-free for as long as possible. The games work well, but in my eyes the days of split-screen multiplayer is pretty much over, isn’t it? I mean I’m all for beating my son at Smash Bros (in my dreams) but I’m just not sure about split-screen shooters or racers in this day and age. 

What we have in Aniquilation is almost a case of style over substance – a game that looks flashy and full of pizazz, but is a bit lacking where it counts. Imagine it as a chavtastic boy racer – all big bodykit, massive exhaust and pumping sound system complete with neon lights, but under the bonnet is his mum’s 1.0 litre 3-cylinder shopping trolley. 

You’d feel a bit disappointed if you were cruising, right? Well, so it is here. 

Aniquilation is on the Xbox Store

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