We have great luck with twin stick shooters over the years with games like Super Stardust Ultra and Geometry Wars. Shoot em’ ups games have this challenge and appeal, for the most part, that keep gamers coming back for more consistently. Independent developer, Blazing Badger and their first entry AIPD: Artificial Intelligence Police Department, puts their own touch on the genre, but does it stand up with the rest?
You play as a ship that is presumably part of the AIPD, even though there is no real story to base this assumption on. You blast your way through wave after wave of enemies while having a choice of two options to add to your multiplier between waves that eventually makes the next level harder than the last. As you play and inevitably reach the game over screen, your score is accumulated over time and the points allows you to unlock new weapons and other loadouts.
When you get ready to start your game, you are given four different options; standard, tough transporters, hostile space, and high-tech armada. Each mode other than the standard, starts off with certain enemy aspects upgraded from the beginning, like superweapons, environment dangers, and enemies that start with all abilities. After playing through each of the modes including one where you can create your own design modules, I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between any of them. I suppose after going through the standard mode, you can tell a little bit of difference in abilities, but if asked, I couldn’t tell you the difference on a visual level.
AIPD is advertised as a twin stick shooter, and I suppose that is correct, even though you have to use the right trigger to fire and the left trigger to use bombs. If there was any real gripe to be had with the controls, it’s that you can’t fire with the right stick like a lot of twin stick shooters and the bomb detonations are very lackluster, visually. With a game that has so much going on, it was hard to tell what effects my bombs had, if any.
AIPD is fun in spurts, but it doesn’t come close to being addictive like others that resemble it, like Geometry Wars. The gameplay is challenging and the controls are excellent, but there is something that bogs it down; repetitiveness.
On the surface, AIPD is a very colorful game that is an homage to 80’s arcade and neon art styles that is very reminiscent of TRON and a throwback to older games, like Minestorm on the late Vectrex system. While appearance is very nice to look at, it tends to wear a little thin as the layout and color scheme never changes as you look at the same screen over and over again. In fact, that’s the game’s biggest downfall, the repetitiveness of the look, and the gameplay.
That’s what it ultimately comes down to; the visuals and lack thereof. AIPD has a lot going for it, the controls are tight, and the neon visuals using the Unreal engine are great at first look, but there is nothing else that distinguishes itself from other games like it. Putting in other color palettes for each wave every so often would have done wonders to the game, but instead you are put through the monotony each time you play. If the game were fleshed out a bit more, it would have a lot going for it.
Where AIPD does shines is the four player local co-op. There is nothing about the gameplay that stands out any, it is just fun to have some couch co-op in a game and it keeps the game interesting longer than if it just had the single player by itself. At the very least, you will get a little more variety of color with each ship having a different look. With that being said, there is no online co-op, but there is an online leader board to measure your progress with others.
AIPD is a great game on the surface, and while the controls and graphics are excellent, there is nothing about the game in its repetitiveness, gameplay, and never changing visuals, that will keep you wanting to continue the game for hours on end. However, it’s a great game to have for those that enjoy local co-op on a regular basis, but even that will probably not be enough for too long.
A review copy was provided by the developer.