When I first saw the trailer for Beat Blaster, with it's neon graphics, pumping music and fast-paced gameplay with guns, I knew it was something I wanted to play, and as the launch of the game almost coincided with the launch of the VR Explorer website, I decided to reach out to the developers with a request for a key so that I could review their cool looking game for my website. They kindly said yes and sent me one, and today I managed to find a bit of time to give it a go.
I was nervous to start with, as some games play nothing like how they might be portrayed to in the trailer, and I admit to building up a bit of hype for this game, as I thought it looked very cool and extremely good fun. Just from watching the trailer it reminded me of one of my favourite VR demos from quite a while back called TRANCE VR, which was very similar in a variety of ways, including the locomotion, fast-paced gameplay with guns, and a pumping soundtrack. So I fired up the game and jumped straight in.
The game gives you a choice of 3 types of locomotion - two types where you use your head to guide you through the courses, and one where you use the thumbpad. I tried both head locomotion systems to start with but soon found both to be a little bit tricky so I finally settled on the thumbpad movement, which was a lot easier and less stressful, helping me to stay alive longer with each attempt at a level.
The gameplay itself is simple - you speed through a futuristic course trying to avoid obstacles and shooting the myriad of enemies and targets that pop up for points, trying to stay alive long enough to reach the end of each level, which is easier said than done as you are also racing against time, as you must finish each level before the song finishes, which ensures you don't hang around, and also adds to the adreneline rush you feel with each attempt.
I loved the shooting in this game. You get the choice of either two handguns or a submachine gun, and seeing as I had one hand busy with locomotion, I eventually opted for the machine gun, which with the trigger held down let out a constant stream of bullets enabling me to literally blitz my way through the level, destroying everything I could in relentless waves of machine gun fire - it felt awesome! and on moments made me feel like I was Neo during the lobby scene of the Matrix, as I literally sped my way through the course with shards of the enemy raining down on me as I blasted them into tiny fragments. It really was a cool feeling especially when things get fast and frantic. The level design is just brilliant, as one minute you can be firing across a vast area, and the next shooting enemies right in front of your face, but it never gets too overwhelming or too hard, with the balance seeming to be just right.
The graphics in the game are a cool retro neon style, which I like, and which suits the game perfectly and ensures little chance of low frame rates even on low end machines. I have a i5 3570 and a 980ti, put settings on high and it was as smooth as butter without any problems at all. The graphics are also music reactive, with things moving and bouncing around to the beat of the songs, which looks really good as you're racing through the levels, and along with the music itself helps you to become really immersed.
The game also boasts 'Ambisonic Audio' on its Steam page, but I have no clue what that is or what it does, however what I did notice was that each time I played, the level was slightly different than the time before, which is another thing I think the developers mention on their Steam page. This kept the game feeling fresh and I never had that feeling like I'd seen it all before, even after many attempts at the same level. It never got tiring or boring during my 40 plus minutes of initial gameplay.
Each level (I got to level 3) also introduced new cool enemies (some really big ones) and different ways to kill you, which again made you want to keep playing to see what was around the next corner, and I found myself wanting just 'one more go' even when I knew I really should be quitting.
Watch the trailer or my gameplay video, and if you think this sort of fast-paced arcade action looks like fun, then I highly recommend that you give it a go. I'm not sure how many levels there are, but the game boasts 30 different songs, so my guess is it's quite a few.