Xeno Assault II (PC)

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Graphics: 7.50
Sound: 7.00
Gameplay: 7.00
Replays: 7.00

Xeno Assault was one of the best shareware shooters available this year. So when word reaches you that a sequel to the game is available only a month or two after the release of the original, you definitely sit up and take notice. While the game itself isn’t that different from the original, there is still a lot of fun to be had.

The overall look of the game hasn’t changed. The same star-esque backgrounds remain, as do some of the standards enemy types. The handy bar on the right side of the screen allows you to keep track of what stage you’re on, as well as your score and current weapon. There is still no slowdown in the great (a must as many enemies are often coming at you), and load times are still relatively short.

Some of the music as well has been carried over for the sequel. This however, is not a bad thing as the themes fit the game nicely. Enemy fire and mines are easy to distinguish by specific sounds. Overall, not much is different here.

Xeno Assault’s core gameplay remains in place, but there are a few minor changes. Now in the original, you could only move your ship left or right. Now, it is possible to move all around the screen, which is definitely a good thing as more enemies will now be thrown your way. Changes have also been made to your weapons. Now the charge beam requires you to hold and release the left click on your mouse, so it won’t be used as often. You also can’t hold down the button to get continuous fire anymore. This sequel also introduces some new power-ups that help add to the game.

One thing that definitely stands out is the difficulty level. While the original Xeno Assault didn’t seem particularly difficulty, this sequel seems to have amped up the challenge. Even on Easy difficulty, gamers may have troubles with some of the later missions. There are ten missions overall, each divided into ten stages a piece. While it would have been nice to see a little more variety (do we really need to go through an asteroid field at least once per mission?), the game is still fun. It still isn’t possible to save mid-mission, so if you die then prepare to play the whole mission over again (and these missions are rather long, so that’s definitely not a good thing).

Normal and Agility missions return in the sequel, and there are also two additional game modes to unlock. The first is Infinite Mode, in which you must try to survive for as long as possible without additional health power-ups. Next, there is the Boss Mode, in which players will take on an onslaught of bosses. While some bosses have been carried over from the original, they still pack a fair challenge. Scoreboards are kept in all major modes, and it is possible to keep track of how good you are through the online score table.

Consider Xeno Assault II more of an expansion pack than a true sequel, as it only tweaks the formula from the first game. While it can become repetitious after extended periods of play (more than 2 hours in most cases), if you take it in small doses than there is a lot of fun to be had. Jagged Blade will begin producing more missions for the game relatively soon, which definitely should help replay value. If you missed out on the original or had a love for it, go and check the sequel. Otherwise give the demo a try first before you buy it. Both the demo and the full version of Xeno Assault II are available from http://www.jaggedbladesoft.com, and the full version is $19.95.

Overall Rating: 7.00

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