If I told you there was a new game available which took strong inspiration from Space Invaders, I suspect your response would be somewhere near the bottom of the excitement scale. And why wouldn’t it? Space Invaders has been around forever, and the number of games which have used the same style of gameplay are far too numerous to mention. So with all that in mind, how can it be that Titan Attacks! is actually very enjoyable and probably worth a few of your hard earned quid?
There are a few things that make Titan Attacks! stand out from your average alien shooter. The biggest deal here is the continuing theme of Curve’s recent games, with this being a three-way cross-play title that you can buy once and enjoy on the PS3, PS4 and Vita. It’s very much a Vita game, but it’s nice to be able to plonk yourself down and have a few games on the bigger screen too. There’s also a well thought out risk and reward system when it comes to upgrades, a system which offers far more depth than is initially apparent.
Each round you play gives you a score and a certain amount of cash to spend. It might be that you can’t afford any upgrades and have to go another round as you were, or it might be the case that you want to top up your shie;d ready for another battle with the invading alien army. The further you go, the more potential you have for earning cash, with a handy multiplier ticking up each time you make it through a round which increases your scoring potential each time. Take a hit at any point and the multiplier is gone, pushing your chances of valuable upgrades onto the scrap heap for another couple of rounds. During all this you’re lost in the haze of bombs heading your way, smiling every time a partly damaged enemy hurtles down the screen with a TIE fighter-esque sound and dipping away from the crowds to shoot an escaping alien who’s trying to parachute to safety.
Even when you get the money to buy something you need to make some tough decisions. Do you top up your shield in the hope of making it further, or save up for a few rounds to buy some more powerful weapons and super-powerful bombs? Without a decent shield you might not make it far enough to even buy them, so it’s a tough decision to make. For what would seem to be a simple clone of an ancient game, this really keeps things interesting and on-edge.
And then there’s the high score chasing, that extra level of addiction which went away for 20 years and has come back over the past few years to make decent games incredibly addictive works of genius. You’ll play though Titan Attacks! without blinking, your eyes drying up as you refuse to take your eyes off the action for even a fraction of a second. You’ll push the bad guys off Earth, then on to the Moon and further beyond. At some point you’ll probably push your luck a bit too far and the journey will be over; maybe you’ve come off worse in a huge end of planet mothership battle, or maybe you were justs a bit too cocky and tried to swoop between a torrent of bullets without success. But it might not be the end of the road.
When you start a new game you can choose where to start, so if you’ve made it to Mars, you can start your game right there at the start of the Mars section. Nothing unusual about that maybe, but it remembers what you had when you got there, meaning you effectively pick up where you left off. Your score, money and upgrades are still fully in place and you can have another bash at improving your high score without having to do the far more simple earlier levels. Pretty cool.
It’s still a very simple game in terms of the mechanics – your tank flings itself left and right and shoots in a single vertical direction – and in that respect there isn’t much elevating it above the games of 30 or 40 years ago, but that’s the intended charm of this, and while it might put people off who are more interested in modern gaming advances than looking back for inspiration there’s a definite quality here that isn’t immediately apparent. Give yourself a chance to get a few upgrades onto the tank and reach the tougher levels on offer and you’ll realise there’s a far greater challenge than the games this has based itself on. And besides, we wouldn’t want Titan to win, would we? No. Go and pick this up and do your bit for Earth.
Reviewed on PS3/PS4/Vita