In our initial look at the vehicle combat game Assault Heroes, we were impressed with its nonstop action, attractive visuals, and addictive gameplay. The same can be said about our time with the game during a recent Microsoft press event, where we learned about a few new wrinkles to Assault Heroes' gameplay.
For those unfamiliar with the game, Assault Heroes is a top-down, mission-based vehicle combat game that has you take control of an armed-to-the-teeth dune buggy, blasting through wave after wave of enemies while causing copious amounts of building damage in the process. You can play the game in two-player co-op mode, but with only one controller on hand, we went about things solo. During our time with the game, we learned of a few new control tweaks that make your slog through the inevitable tide of enemies a bit easier. By pressing the right trigger, for example, you can toss grenades at the enemy, a handy move for taking down encampments or larger vehicles. If things really get out of hand, you can always deploy your nuke by pressing the left and right triggers simultaneously; as you might expect, all the enemies onscreen will go bye-bye after you drop the nuclear hammer.
To upgrade your vehicles' weapons, you'll have to enter a number of special cargo holds that cannot be reached by your buggy. To get the weapons then, you'll have to leave your vehicle by pressing the B button; however, because you are so vulnerable to attack in this mode, you quickly learn to park your buggy as close to the upgrade as possible in order to minimize your time in the line of fire. Weapons we earned during our time with the game include a slow-firing but powerful howitzer cannon, an incredibly destructive flame thrower, and a rapid-fire laser cannon. Once you've earned a weapon, you can cycle through them by pressing the left or right buttons.
The enemies you encounter in Assault Heroes will range from your typical tiny peon soldiers to the more formidable tanks and amphibious assault vehicles. There are even enemy vehicles that dig themselves out of the ground to take you unawares. Luckily, the game's controls--move with the left stick, shoot in any direction with the right stick--make it easy to avoid enemies and blast them no matter where you are. Should your vehicle take too much damage, you'll be momentarily stuck in the open with no protection beyond a meager laser rifle. Manage to survive that, however, and it won't be long before a shiny new assault buggy is delivered so you can continue your path of destruction. About the only gripe we had with our time with Assault Heroes was the relatively plodding pace of the vertical screen scroll, which seemed to move too slowly even after we'd completely cleared a portion of the map.
With bright, attractive visuals and that "just once more" style of gameplay, Assault Heroes looks to be a winner when it arrives on Xbox Live Arcade. We'll have a full review of the game when it becomes available for download.