Beat Hazard is too damned exciting to let you give into frustrations

User Rating: 7 | Beat Hazard PC
Rhythm games are a blemish on the blazer of games. There's nothing fun about a giant quick time event telling you what to do and giving you the cue to do it. That's not gaming, that's being in special ed. Luckily, Beat Hazard tries to switch up the concept, by building rhythm around a classic space shooter. It's like someone said: "Hey, remember that game Asteroids you enjoyed so much, back in the day? Well, I completely raped it and here are the desecrated remains." Naturally, I jumped in excitement to try that out, he said with a sneer.

Strangely enough, Beat Hazard doesn't instantly suck like most rhythm games. Using rhythm as a catalyst for the entire game, your spaceship's fire power and amount of enemies is built by the intensity of the music; any music. By picking up powerups, you can amplify the sound, your power or gain a multiplier to score higher points. But you can also stop firing and risk getting taken down to gain additional amplifiers. This adds a separate reward system that is thoroughly exciting and switches up the game from just blasting indefinitely. Enemies come at you in different sizes and shapes, with different weapons and there are even some boss fights, which are usually really intense.

This intensity is splattered in all kinds of ways on your screen, most notably by the very sparkling visuals. Just about anything in the game flashes uncontrollably and the fatter the beat, the more there is to flash about. This amplifies the intensity and gives the game an appealing feel, but the most intense moments get killed by the sheer overkill of brightness on your screen. Your little ship shooting billions of rays, combined with even more things exploding and stellar systems shining, will make you lose your bearings and before you know it; poof goes the ship. There is the option of lowering the glimmer, but for one it doesn't really negate the blinding feeling and in addition, you get penalized for being a wimp. That's like punishing the epileptic kid for having an attack. This is somewhat frustrating, because just dialing it down a little would've kept the excitement at an amazing level.

Controlling your ship is also just a step away from perfection. While you do get that epic Asteroids feel of playing the brightest iteration of the game ever, controlling your ship and its gun is just a tad too loose. It's really hard to maneuver in Liberace's star-studded apocalypse as it is, without the icy feel turning it into the Ice Capades. Again, this adds to the fervent feel that makes your heart skip many a beat, but it's just not fine-tuned enough and that does take an entire chuck out of the fun. Adding a small control sensitivity setup again would've gone a long way, said Captain Hindsight.

Yet, Beat Hazard is too damned exciting to let you give into frustrations such as these. Playing any track will make your pulse race to the beat and just playing a few minutes is jam-packed with more action than any other rhythm game. The sheer overkill of it all creates a mixture of challenge and fun that will keep you coming back for more; at least if you enjoy synthetic music, because Beat Hazard doesn't feel the same for each track. The tracks that come with the game play great and other dance music will do equally well, but if you like guitars and actual talent, you might have to bite the bullet, as Machine Head said. Playing a rock, indie, hardcore or metal track just doesn't coexist with the game as their digital colleagues. As you need to collect volume by playing and as the game flashes like Edward Cullen on Summer Solstice, most of the symbiosis goes lost when angry people are shouting in the background. But don't fret; as soon as you change your hardcore 'no hipsters' mentality, you'll be in your ship on the way to planet Awesome!

Apart from the regular track by track Play mode, Beat Hazard also offer 2 Player mode, a relaxed Chill Out mode and a Survival mode, for you hardcore people. Here, you choose a music folder of your choice and set off to play as long as you can; which isn't easy, as the ships really fly at you here. But if that isn't enough, the game also has a series of different difficulty settings, with Normal just being the second step of5. You'll get a run for your money on Normal, so expect to practice if you'd like to achieve greatness. Speaking of which, Beat Hazard also offers the obligatory Achievements for you trophy hunters.

In all, Beat Hazard is not only fun to play, it's also thrilling. The integration of the rhythm system to the entire aspect of the game creates a synergy that locks you in a trance and adds tactical decisions to the mix. It's funny how a beat drop will suddenly leave you with no weapons to fend off the generated enemies from the rhythm section. It just goes to show that every track really is unique and no 1 game will ever feel similar and that alone sets Beat Hazard above the garbage pile that is the rhythm genre. There's no paid DLC, you just plug in and play whatever you want and you do it better than all those suckers with plastic guitars. Sure, there are a few imperfections and frustrations added to the extravagant mix, but anyone out to bob their heads and test their might at the same time, should give this a try.