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Xbox Live Arcade Review: Omega Five

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Omega Five isn’t quite sure what it is. It’s trapped between being a straight-up shoot ’em up and a bullet hell game and isn’t exactly sure what it wants to be. At times, you’ll be dodging or deflecting bullets on the screen, while other times will feel more traditional as you destroy waves of enemies.

If there’s anything that’s obvious about Omega Five, it’s that they did all the localization in Japan. I won’t spoil any of the fun, but damn, there’s plenty of spoken Engrish to be heard in the voice-overs. Still, if you’re a hardcore enough gamer to be buying this game, it won’t bother you. Hell, it might actually make the game more fun!

Omega Five is clearly not a game designed with the casual gamer in mind, and nowhere is this more present than in the game’s difficulty. While my recent Mega Man ZX Advent review compared the difficulty to getting kicked in the junk, the difficulty of Omega Five is like taking a Falcon Punch square in the balls. You’ll be dodging and shooting down enemies as the come at you from the front, top, bottom and rear. Keep an eye on the background, too: enemies often appear from there.

You’ll start out with two available characters — Ruby and Tempest — with two more that can be unlocked by beating the game. The game makes use of the basic control scheme made so popular by Geometry Wars: one analog stick to move, one to aim and shoot. It’s a fairly simple, easy-to-learn method of control. The weapons system is a little more complex, consisting of three different weapons that you can change between by collecting the correct-colored item during game play. Each weapon is slightly similar, but offers different perks. For example, Ruby’s weapons are a normal cannon, a laser beam that can reflect off walls, and an electric attack that damages the target and enemies around it. All of these weapons can also be upgraded up to three times during game play.

Graphics? Not an issue. It’s a game that’s absolutely gorgeous and one of the best-looking titles on Xbox Live Arcade, without a doubt. Not only do the 3-D models look beautifully rendered, but the backgrounds of each level are vibrant and active, and as stated earlier, you’ll see enemies come from the background into the foreground and vice versa.

The achievements in this game seem simple, but they’re tough. Getting all the way through the game is difficult as is, but each of the characters has a specific achievement only they can unlock by completing a difficult challenge. Unfortunately, it’s also a bit short at only four levels, but those four levels are absolutely grinding and far from easy.

Omega Five is one of those games that was designed with the hardcore fan in mind, and it certainly shows. Those who aren’t hardcore will likely get frustrated with the high difficulty of the game, even though they’ll enjoy the game’s graphics. It also suffers from being too short at only four levels, but it’s still better than anything of this genre we’ve seen on Xbox Live.

Pros: Shoot ’em up fans will love this title. Looks beautiful, controls easily.

Cons: High difficulty level. Somewhat complex weapons system might confuse more casual gamers.

Omega Five is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Fantasy Violence and Mild Suggestive Themes.

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About Brian Szabelski