Overall Score 90%
Happy. That might seem like a strange way to start a game review, but I thought it was best to simply describe my mood immediately after playing Superluminal's Guardian. The same mood was induced years ago when I would sit at home playing Defender, a game that Guardian is heavily based upon.
For those not familiar with Defender; you fly a ship on a horizontal plane, killing the attacking enemies and rescuing civilians. Unlike other early shoot-em-ups, you could fly left-to-right and right-to-left, within a wide, wraparound, level and it was important to watch your fire, as stray shots could end your plight.
Guardian isn't just a simple update however. Plenty of new game modes enhance the formula with levels ranging from simple attack runs, to hostage rescuing, allied base protection and enemy base destroying. Mission objectives are relayed to you on screen and you need to keep an eye on updates to continue the game.
Although a little difficult to begin with, the gameplay in Guardian is superb. Everything just seems to work as you'd expect, with ship control, weapons, shield power, difficulty and powerups fitting perfectly. My first impressions were a little less forgiving as you find yourself in hot water right from level one - this is one time when familiarising yourself with the controls is essential.
Once you realise that your shield can take quite a beating, the game feels a lot more forgiving and you can concentrate on the mission objectives. Your ship comes with 4 different weapons to begin with, from the standard rapid-fire bullets, to missiles, bombs and an energy-sapping blast wave. These weapons can be upgraded to include lasers and other energy weapons.
All of your weapons have limited ammo (or energy) and you'll need to keep an eye on special weapon drops that happen during play in order to replenish supplies. You can also hover near your base to restore both ammo and energy, though this has the risk of enemies converging on your location.
Both audio and visual aspects of Guardian are great. The soundtrack is fun, whilst the sound effects spark nostalgic memories to the original Defender. The trend is continued visually, with explosions being a particular highlight. You'll also find plenty of tweaks in the menu to speed the game up on a slower computer.
It's difficult to say anything negative towards Guardian. A recent console update of Defender was met with almost universal critisism, apparently Defender in 3D just doesn't work. So, with Guardian, Superluminal have done what Midway refused to do, they made a 2D update, and it's excellent.
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