Game Review: Xenocide
Release: December 23, 2010
Genre: Top-down shooter
Available Platforms: Xbox 360
MSRP: 80 Microsoft points ($1 USD)
ESRB Rating: N/A (Best guess: E)
Xenocide brings one- to four-player arcade shooting action to the Xbox Live Indie community. Endless waves of pixel aliens shuffle across the screen to the famous Space Invaders tune and shower you with lasers. Play arcade mode to experience new weapons and powerups, or dive into nostalgia with the classic version.
If I had to describe Xenocide in three words, I would say “Space Invaders clone.” Xenocide gameplay shares the same ideas with Space Invaders, with a few major improvements. You can fire single shots by pressing A, but you would be better off by holding RT to autofire. This saves your thumb from the incessant mashing found in similar games.
Classic mode is there for the purists, but Arcade is the main event in Xenocide. After every level, it shows your shots fired, kills, and accuracy %. Bonuses are also given based on your accuracy, so the dominant strategy is not to hold RT and fly across the screen. As you earn higher accuracy percentages, you are given more bonuses: special weapon ammo, shield regeneration, and missiles.
The random drops are the real gamechangers. The two weapon drops are triple shot and machine gun, both useful in destroying swathes of aliens. The real damage is done in the bomb category: the default missiles, blue homing missiles, and the crowd favorite Gravity Bomb. It is very satisfying to launch a Gravity Bomb into a fresh wave of aliens and witness their pixel bodies dissimulate, compact, and then explode in a supernova of pixel parts.
I appreciate the originality that the menu screen offers. Aside from the magnificently catchy music, you select game options, view high scores, and start a game by shooting the appropriate alien. I have rarely seen such effort put into something that is typically mundane.
As of now, highscores are only saved locally and there are no global leaderboards. There are scoreboards labeled “Global,” but only my name appears on it and I find it hard to believe I am the only person in the world that has played Xenocide. I would love to see this functionality added (or fixed?) as soon as possible.
As I was playing arcade mode with my girlfriend, we experienced a Code 4 game crash on level 68 after I launched a Gravity Bomb. I didn’t think much of it until I played again, this time adding a third player. We made it to level 102 and destroyed the aliens, but nothing happened. No stat display, no new alien wave, no “Level 103” text. On both occasions I would have set a new high score, so I was obviously upset this happened. On a related note, the difficulty does not scale with the number of players in the game, so get three friends to play if you want to reach triple digits in levels.
If not for my experience with the gamebreaking errors, I would recommend this as my Space Invaders clone of choice. Unfortunately, I can already hear the lament of someone who was on level 735 and had a game crash. However, please download the trial version, listen to the title music on loop, and host a party.
- Local multiplayer (up to 4)
- Two modes, arcade and classic
- Sweet title screen music
- 80 Microsoft points
- Occasional gamebreaking bugs
Final Score: 6 out of 10