Game Review: 0 Day Attack on Earth
Release: December 23rd, 2009
Genre: Twin-Stick Arcade Shooter
Available Platform: Xbox 360 (Xbox LIVE Arcade)
Number of Players: 1, 2-4 Co-op, 2-8 Versus
MSRP: 1200 Microsoft Points ($15USD)
ESRB Rating: E10+
With the success of the Geometry Wars series on the Xbox 360 and Super Stardust HD on the PlayStation 3, twin stick shooters have been this console generation’s answer to the shooters of the 1980s and early 1990s. Two analog sticks means more control not only for onscreen craft, but also more precise firing. Unfortunately, aside from the two aforementioned games, the genre’s success has been slow to boil. Ion Assault and Powerup Forever are two examples of not quite getting the formula right; Ion Assault added new mechanics that never felt right while PowerUp Forever was too bland to set itself apart from its competition.
Enter 0 Day Attack on Earth, a twin-stick shooter published by Square-Enix and developed by Gulti, who also developed Raiden Fighters Aces for the Xbox 360 last year.
The general idea of 0 Day Attack on Earth is that the planet has been attacked by alien forces, and they’ve taken control of several major worldwide cities. In order to save the world, players must man fighter craft and take down the alien threat, one city at a time. It’s not a novel idea by any stretch of the imagination, but storylines aren’t usually what sell games like this. Solid play controls, addictive gameplay, and genuine but fair challenge are the real selling points of any shooter, and 0 Day Attack on Earth simply doesn’t have any of these.
Players can select from a handful of different ships with which to do battle against the aliens in. Each ship has its own pair of weapons; the first weapon is weaker, but as players grab powerups left behind by defeated aliens, the weapon eventually changes to its second form. This second weapon is the better one and either deals more damage or covers a wider radius to ward off attacking enemies. Players do battle in each city for seven days, or stages. In order to complete a day, players must eliminate all target aliens before time runs out. While this may seem like an easy enough task to complete, the game adds obstacles such as death-dealing clouds, parasitic enemies that gradually drain ship energy, and other secondary forces that seem to always be in just the right place to deal lethal damage to your ship.
The most notable thing about 0 Day Attack on Earth is that the cities that the battles take place over and in real cities that have been recreated from satellite imagery and photographs. People who live in New York, for example, will see lots of familiar sights from local ballparks to business buildings. It’s similar to the hook that The Last Guy had on the PlayStation 3; using real locales instead of imaginary or less-detailed ones draws interest. Aside from the imagery, the game also benefits from multiplayer action which can make the battle against the aliens somewhat easier. If you don’t wish to cooperate, though, the game also boasts a Versus mode. The inclusion of different kinds of craft makes for different games each time you play. Do you prefer the Fighter’s missiles and machine guns or the X-A’s powerful bullets? It’s all up to you and your style of play.
While there are a few positive things about 0 Day Attack on Earth, it suffers from more than a few problems. For starters, the play control doesn’t feel as tight as it should, and when touching almost any object on the screen can cause considerable energy loss, this makes for unnecessary challenge. The game is also cheap in spots; for example, lethal clouds can spring up with less than a moment’s notice which make for unavoidable collisions and lost lives. The game is short, clocking in just about above 20 stages total. For a $15 game, this is an experience that ends too quickly, and putting downloadable content out there that adds to the cost of the game doesn’t remedy the issue.
If you’re looking for a solid twitch shooter, a good twin-stick shooter, or a way to spend those 1200 Microsoft Points that seem to be burning a hole in your account, 0 Day Attack on Earth is not the answer. The novelty of the game’s real-life environments quickly fades behind a disappointing combination of imprecise play controls, cheap deaths, and unenjoyable repetition. The Square-Enix publishing label alone does not lend any credibility to the game, and there are quite frankly better games in the genre out there to be played. It’s rare to give this advice, but for once: let the aliens win. Avoid this game.