Yar’s Revenge: review

  • Format: Xbox Live Arcade
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Atari
  • Developer: Killspace
  • Players: 1
  • Site: http://www.Atari.com

Do you remember the Original Yars’ Revenge game on the old Atari console platform? Didn’t think so. Most people can’t and hence it seems strange for Atari to try to bring life back to an IP that most people can’t connect to. Yet, they have, and here we find ourselves playing a game which is a re-imagining of the Yars universe.

Yar’s revenge is a Sin and Punishment clone, and to be honest it’s not a great one. It’s an on-rails shooter, where you control your character and targeting reticule separately. You control Yar’s movement with your left thumbstick, and you move your character around the screen as the game flies through the level on your behalf. It is your job to avoid the many bullets from enemies laid out in front of you – that’s all you have to avoid. Don’t worry about the scenery, you can just go through any of that without damaging a thing.

The right thumbstick controls your targeting reticule and you have a range of guns and weapons, most of which are quite unremarkable, to kill things along the way. Additionally, you have the extra layer of strategy of power-ups, which can be triggered by the player.

There is a story, and it kind of makes sense; but it’s annoying and drawn out so you’ll find yourself skipping it. However to be fair, this is a problem with a lot of downloadable games which lack the investment in narrative – or CGI, or animated cut scenes – required to make them engaging. The game does look very pretty at times, but the core gameplay is simply ordinary. On normal difficulty or above, the game is really hard and you’ll be restarting from checkpoints regularly. The checkpoints are not save points, so if you get stuck at particular section you either have to continue and put your life on hold or quit and start from the level’s beginning next time you play. In a game which is so hard, that is inexcusable. Additionally in a game that is so unremarkable, it’s demotivating to have to replay the same segments just to see the game through to the end.

As is to be expected with this genre, the enemies follow the exact same route each time, and their patterns are largely repetitive and predictable. What makes the game hard is the large numbers of enemies and enemy projectiles being fired at your character. Every so often the stage theme changes and hence the enemy graphics update, but they essentially repeat the same types as their previous incarnations, i.e. tanks are still tanks, easy to kill flying things are still easy to kill flying things and so on…

End of level bosses are a disaster. If you get as far as seeing one, then they are easier than the journey getting there and as predictable as the weaker enemies.

The game includes online leaderboards and a small challenge mode. We can’t imagine why anyone would want the challenge of revisiting the game having already completed it; however if there is a way of getting great value from the game, it is by playing for your score and position on the leaderboard.

Yar’s Revenge is not broken, and it does do what is says on the proverbial box. It’s just so uninspired and ordinary. If you find it in a XBLA sale and fancy having an on rails shooter with a tough learning curve, then it’s a competent game and could be worth your time. However, other than that, there are better ways of spending your points on XBLA which will give more bang for your buck.


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Written by Steven G

Steven Gurevitz is the CEO of 2002 Studios Media LTD and a founder of gaming accessory company Asiiya. 2002 Studios started off as a music production company, but produces a range of content from videos to videogames. The company specialises in localizing content for global brands. He also owns the Urban Sound Label, a small niche e-label. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor and co-owner CriticalGamer.co.uk. He enjoys FPS, Third person 'free world', narrative driven and portable gaming. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor to CriticalGamer.co.uk.

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