Beat Hazard Review

April 23, 2010

There is a disclaimer as Beat Hazard loads up that reads as follows:

WARNING – Photosensitive Seizures: This game uses full screen strobing effects.

There has never been a better warning applied to any product ever. Because basically it admits from the beginning that even if you have never seized up during a particularly stimulating onscreen lightshow before, you certainly will have after you’ve played Beat Hazard for five minutes.

Beat Hazard is basically a mashup of Geometry Wars and Audio Surf. Your own music tracks are used to generate random oldschool-space-shooter-asteroids-type levels and enemies, complete with bosses, power-ups, secondary weapons and much more. You can play on your PC using either a mouse and keyboard or Xbox 360 Controller. The former scheme worked better for me, but popping in the controller is also a fairly natural way to blast away space junk and enemy ships.

Beat Hazard’s level generation functions a little better when paired with songs which have clear rhythmic patterns, such as dance, hip-hop and even pop tracks. I played one level based on the song ‘The Kids are Going to Love’ It by post-punk heroes Million Dead, and while the game remained fun, the song felt a little too loosely connected to what was going on, taking the role of soundtrack rather than interwoven gameplay feature.

The graphics are solid, although it is the lighting that is the clear star of the show, with the flat-looking ships and other items taking a back seat as streams of multicolour plasma pour impossibly from the nose of your vessel. It is nothing that you won’t have seen before in any of the recent reimaginings of classic top-down shooters, but it is probably one of the most manic in its class, with your eyeballs taking a real pounding as you mount up new weapons and let loose with massively destructive bombs and missiles.

There is a levelling system present within Beat Hazard, and the sense of progress does help make it feel like a worthwhile task to go through your song library and score huge points. You get the usual selection of online leader boards to compare your performance with others around the world, as well as unique achievements for completing certain tasks. How much playtime you salvage from Beat Hazard will depend on how much stress your eyes and ears can take. There is a lack of variety in the enemies and weapon upgrades after a few plays, so only the terminally competitive will be able to hold out for longer gaming sessions. Thankfully the budget price means you cannot look at it as a lost investment, as there is probably at least seven quids worth of fun to be had over time.

Beat Hazard is on Steam now, and also on Xbox LIVE I believe.

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One Response to “Beat Hazard Review”

  1. nagekawashii Says:

    Beat Hazard is a wonderfully designed game, taking much from both Geometry Wars and Audiosurf indeed. But Cold Beam Games has combined them beautifully. See my review at http://nagekawashii.wordpress.com


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