Review by Matt Paprocki

Play Logic


Graphics: 8

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 6

Overall: 6


Wrapped around an intriguing storyline, Xyanide offers standard fare for the SHMUP genre, including almost necessary co-op play. It's obvious influences are spread liberally, and with only a few unique concepts to carry itself, even die-hard fans will have a tough time appreciating this title. Xyanide is a case of coming close without fully realizing its potential.

xyanide1xbox.jpg (153590 bytes)Presented in multiple viewpoints to keep the game visually interesting, Xyanide uses both analog sticks for combat. On top of rapidly passing, nausea-inducing backdrops with nearly zero interaction programmed into it, players take on a unique roster of ships on their quest to deliver a witch to her execution (when of course things go horribly wrong). Boss battles are frequent, and actually require some strategy to pass through unscathed.

Problems become apparent in single player. The games difficulty is near the ridiculous level even on the easiest setting available. It's not a matter of lack of skill or abusive enemy patterns. It's the amount of damage one player can cause. The first level boss requires an astonishing level of destruction before lighting up in a gorgeous fireball. A timer alerts the player to the hazard, and if it's not destroyed in time, it's an unavoidable death. With a partner, there's no need for the timer. You can take it down in record time.

It's beyond frustrating to deal with cheap deaths, especially when the levels come dangerously close to setting world records for length. With some stages nearing the 20-minute mark, dying and replaying is not a strong prospect for enjoyment. This is especially dull when the environments constantly cycle through more times than you can count on your fingers.

Certain moments in the game offer branching paths, though knowing where these come into play relies more on being in the right place at the right time than any conscious decision. Different areas never really look new or varied aside from enemy patterns or an additional boss fight. As such, the environments have no effect on gameplay to the average player. The lack of interaction takes away from the title, giving this budget shooter a "pasted on" feel.

While adding collision to the level walls would only add to the difficulty, it would at least raise the game above the level of a generic FMV shooter from the early '90s. It's a shame too since Xyanide performs fine in the area of explosions, satisfaction, and weaponry. As a basic update to a classic genre, it has the basic mechanics down, while adding its own twist. With multiple types of weapons, each with their own tendencies against specific enemies, it keeps the players from simply holding down a firing button.

xyanide2xbox.jpg (86750 bytes)It creates an interesting visual change in your ship too. Picking up power-ups will slowly turn your fighter into an organic or mechanical firepower source. Your speed is likewise affected depending on the path you take. There's also the addition of higher power secondary fire, charged on the left trigger and fired at a locked-on target. It's hardly an original idea, though executed nicely enough to prove satisfying when these shots land. You're also granted special moves that vary between offensive and defensive advantages on the face buttons.

Only two modes of play are selectable, and sadly, neither one of those are online. Leaderboards are all the Xbox Live banner on the back of the box will bring you. Arcade mode takes you through the entire game in one run (with no way to save), while Level mode lets you take on an individual fight you unlocked by playing the previous gameplay challenge.

To its credit, Xyanide does a stunning job of creating its world on a budget. The cinematics are worth watching again, and it may keep someone from putting down the controller when they're frustrated. Sadly, the same can't be said for the gameplay, which not only feels restrictive, but wasted. Xyanide's few new ideas can't keep it together in the long run.


Go to Digital Press HQ
Return to Digital Press Home

Last updated: Monday, October 09, 2006 09:57 PM