Aces of the Galaxy is an upcoming space shooter for Xbox Live Arcade from publisher Sierra Online and developer Artech Studios. While the game has a lighthearted tone in terms of its flimsy storyline, visually it's is no joke. Having played an alpha build of the game at a recent Sierra Online press event, we can safely say that this is one of the more graphically impressive XBLA games we've seen in a while.
Essentially a 3D rail shooter, Aces lets you pick a ship and blast your way through more than 20 levels of intense action as you look to take down a race of lizardlike aliens who are bent on--what else?--destroying humanity. Or enslaving them. Or eating them. Or marrying their daughters. Something like that. It doesn't really matter, though, when you've got a spaceship armed with an endless supply of chainguns, cluster bombs, and torpedoes. You can practically hear the lizard-folk begging to explode by your trigger finger.
Once you've chosen a mission and a spaceship, Aces' controls are as straightforward as they come. You pilot the ship around the screen using the left stick and fire weapons with different face buttons. Periodically you'll also be able to use a bullet-time-like power that will temporarily slow down all of the enemies on the screen, giving you time to mop up big crowds if you use it wisely. The Y button will let you scan for invisible enemies, which you will encounter often in the game. Your scanner's field of vision isn't very wide, so you'll want to make sure you're checking all over the screen when looking for enemies.
While some are invisible, most of the bad guys in Aces of the Galaxy are front and center and ripe for the shooting. Swarms of enemies regularly appear onscreen, and, at times, it's sort of hard to believe this is merely a downloadable arcade game. Better yet, even with all of the sci-fi backgrounds and tons of exploding enemies, the game's frame rate held up admirably well throughout our demo.
Boss battles galore, multiple difficulty levels, and a cooperative multiplayer mode will keep the challenge level high in Aces, and we're looking forward to seeing more of the game. The game is due for release on Xbox Live Arcade and PC in the near future.