Xyanide Resurrection Hands-On

Xyanide Resurrection made its first appearance on the Xbox this year, and already PlayLogic is developing a PSP prequel. We take a first look at this arcade shoot 'em up ahead of its Q1 2007 release.

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Sony's PlayStation Portable has a games catalogue that covers most genres, but it currently lacks a standout old-school shoot-'em-up. PlayLogic's Xyanide Resurrection looks set to deliver Galaxian-style thrills when it arrives on the console at the beginning of next year. Featuring a storyline that preludes the Xbox version of Xyanide Resurrection and wireless multiplayer gameplay, it looks like it will offer decent value for money when it launches in Q1 2007. We managed to get a first play of the game, thanks to a recent visit from PlayLogic.

Xyanide Resurrection should be familiar to fans of the "shmup" genre, and those with a spot for such titles as Ikaruga and Gradius V should feel right at home. You must use your spaceship to fight off wave after wave of enemies, using a combination of a standard arsenal of weapons and some explosive power-ups. These opponents will come at you from all angles as you fly through space, with most levels culminating in a boss fight. It's fun but frantic stuff and seems perfectly suited to playing in short bursts.

The most important part of any shooter is the weapons that you get to play around with, and Xyanide Resurrection offers a strategic choice at the beginning of each level. Before you start, you're able to buy and sell weapons and upgrades in order to customise your ship to specific demands. Your craft has up to four slots to play with, and the preview build allowed us to try out regular guns, lasers, and shotguns, as well as the more powerful rocket launcher. You can also equip a shield generator and a magnet for pulling in Xyanide to replenish your health.

While the preview build didn't feature the game's story mode, we did get to play through three levels to sample some of the level designers' outlandish creations. The narrative of the story is that an evil witch called Aguira manages to escape the clutches of an executer called Drake, which is played by you. As a destroyer of planets and civilisations, Aguira is a tough girl to hunt down, and she uses her powers to create the worlds you will fly through in the game. This means that you'll see some exotic environments, from miasmas of spectral fluid to ancient Greek temples in which blood flows from the walls. Designed as looping video feeds, these environments are visually impressive and offer a nice backdrop on which to destroy the alien hordes.

The story mode will feature a branching level structure, which looks something like Outrun in that you can choose different routes, depending on how much you want the game to challenge you. As a result of this structure, you'll have to play through the game a number of times if you want to sample all the levels, with PlayLogic quoting a playing time of 10 to 12 hours to see everything. Aside from the story mode, there are also pick-up-and-play features to offer short-burst games for on-the-go play. Quick play allows you to dip into any of the single levels that you've unlocked in the game, while in the score attack mode, you need to get as many points as possible in a set amount of time.

Meanwhile, the multiplayer mode will allow two owners of the game to compete against each other across a wireless connection. Three different arenas are available in this mode, one of which was playable in the preview build that we sampled. It's basically the score attack mode with an added level of competition, where you must shoot down as many enemies as possible within a set time frame. Bonuses are available for killchains, with the most points attained by killing multiple enemies within two seconds of each other.

Xyanide Resurrection is also set to offer bonus features for those who explore everything that the game has to offer. The preview build showed off 35 pieces of development artwork, which demonstrates the visualization process that the developers went through to attain the distinctive look of the game. More exciting than the artwork, however, is the 12-part digital comic that explains the backstory in greater depth. And despite the fact that the story seems to be standard sci-fi fare, it's been animated with an impressive level of detail.

Xyanide Resurrection looks promising at this stage, building on the warm reception that the Xbox version received earlier in the year. Hardcore shmup fans are a demanding bunch, with Japanese developer Treasure more or less cornering the market. But we can find out whether PlayLogic has what it takes to compete when Xyanide Resurrection launches in Q1 2007 with a budget price tag.

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