Thursday, 4 August 2011

Beat Hazard Ultra review

Beat Hazard Ultra. The game that uses your own music collection to give you a seizure whilst simultaneously melting your eyes and brain.

The concept of BHU is simple. You play as a ship in an Asteroids style, top down level. You can't leave the screen and enemies and debris come from all directions, you must shoot overuthomg and collect power ups. These alter your speed, score multiplier, volume and give you cash. All pretty standard stuff, but the uniqueness comes from the fact that your music powers the game. The music effects your weapons. Completely. If It is a slow acoustic song, your shots will be weak. If there is a gap in the song, your shooting will stop completely. If the song is fast and heavy, then you will be firing high powered beams with lots of spread, and amazingly intense colours. 
 There are often around three times more enemies than this

There are a few modes to play on Beat Hazard Ultra. These include Standard, Boss Rush, Survival and Chill Out. Normal sees you playing one song, as you try to get the highest score possible. It's probably the best mode to help you learn the ropes of the game, but overall is nothing special. Boss Rush is my personal favourite, as it is truly epic. Choose a song, as usual, and the game starts. Instead of small enemies though, you just get bosses. Medium and large bosses relentlessly come at you, giving you a set time to successfully destroy each one before the next is unleashed. It is the not the most intense mode, but the huge enemies which come at you song after song make it the most satisfying. Boss Rush does not end after one song, it simply plays the next in the chosen folder. This makes Boss Rush, along with Survival and Chill Out, more interesting than Normal mode. One song is fun for a quick blast, but it can end before you really get into it. Survival is great fun too, as it's an extended normal version. It is great fun, and terribly intense. Even the small enemies become your biggest enemies, when you're approaching the ten minute mark. Survival may even have the edge over Boss Rush because there is so much more variation in the enemies. Chill Out is exactly the same as Survival, but you have unlimited lives. It's great for practicing or just to have a bit of fun without having to worry too much. You can rack up multipliers of a few hundred and easily score tens of millions of points. Obviously this doesn't contribute to your rank, that would be too easy.

Ranking up gives you a new title, but more importantly a new perk. These are upgrades for your ship that massively improve your chances of survival. These include extra bombs, extra lives, more powerful weapons, more micro missiles and a load more. It's a great feature and the game would definitely suffer without it. 
 One of the bosses on offer

There are a couple of online modes for Beat Hazard Ultra, which are Head to Head and Co-Op. Pretty easy to figure out what the objective in each is. Playing online is really fun. The competitiveness does not come in shooting each other, that would be boring. Instead, you work together to kill the enemies but then the power ups are fair game for anyone who wants them. The mad dash to get them first is pretty scary, as you still have to watch for enemies too. It's more competitive than you would imagine, and great fun all the way.

With many modes, both off and online, Beat Hazard Ultra is a great little package. It's not a game that will keep you occupied for weeks at a time, but in short bursts it is intensely fun. The visuals are insane (there is a genuine seizure warning), the music is obviously perfect for each player, and the concept of the game is simple. It's great fun and should not be missed.


by Louis Gardner

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