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 Post subject: Atomic Heist (XBOX One - Nintendo Switch - PC)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:21 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
Posts: 286
Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Looks like the XBOX One library of shmups has a lot to talk about. This time is Atomic Heist.

Time's ticking and you're in the worst of all hurries: A nuclear hurry.

This Twin Stick shooter game makes use of the Procedural Generation of creating random levels with constantly new layouts so the premise of exploration is gradually improved as the stages are no longer the same. There's also the inclusion of shortcuts that can be obtained by simply reach specific levels (Levels 4, 7 and 10). To increase the gameplay value, the game includes extra ships, unlockable weapons and hidden modes. Let's talk about the weapons first. The game gives you a variety of weapons to use and survive on your mission of escaping Hyperion-Six station with the leaking core or die tryin'.

M127 ROUND: Your basic Machine Gun Type weapon. Fires rapid bullets. Strong against Runners and Bombers, weak on Pulsars and Blockers.
SEEKER ROUND: This is the Homing Type weapon. Fires fast green lasers that will lock on an enemy if its near its trajectory. It's good against Rammers and Fighters, but weak against Pulsars and Drones.
ELASTIC ROUND: The Bouncer Type weapon. This weapon fires wall bouncing bullets that will bounce until an enemy is hit. Is strong against Fighters and Blockers, but weak against Runners and Rammers.
ENERGETIC FRAG: The Mine Type weapon. Fires mines that go on random speeds, are capable of bounce after hitting a wall, and creates a large explosion, causing "Splash Damage" that affects nearby enemies and objects, it also affects you, so be careful when you use this weapon. It's not compatible with the Triple Shot upgrade and its Fire Rate can only be powered 3 times instead of four unlike the other weapons.
PLASMA ROUND: The Energy Weapon. Fires purple-pink laser shots that overload your enemies until they're destroyed. Strong against Healers and Shielders, weak on Pulsars and Drones.
NAPALM CELL: The Blast Radius weapon. This weapon fires red bullets that explode on impact with an enemy or a wall, causing "Splash Damage" remember to be careful when using this weapon. Strong on Commandos (Bosses) and Drones, but weak against Blockers and Bombers.
HDF SLUG: The Power Bullet Type. Fires a rapid shot capable of pushing the enemy back a little, and causing great damages. Good on Fighters and Bombers, but weak on Rammers and Blockers.
SPLINTER ROUND: The Exploding Cluster Type. Fires bullets that explode in multiple shots that scatter in all directions. While this weapon is good against Pulsars and Bombers, is weak against Drones and Commandos.
PROTON BEAM: The Lightning Type. This weapon uses lightning bolts that lock on an enemy. Is not compatible with the Triple Shot upgrade and has the worst fire rate of all.
FLAK CARTRIDGE: The Shotgun Type. Fires a curtain of bullets with a moderate range, the closer the enemy is, the greater the damage will be. Strong against Rammers and Blockers, weak on Fighters and Bombers. It is not compatible with the Triple Shot upgrade and has a limited fire rate.
VISCID FRAG: The Sticky Grenade. Fires green gel covered grenades that stick to an enemy ensuring they will damage it. This is also another weapon with Splash Damage, so remember to be careful 'cos it could kill you. Like the Splinter Round, it is not compatible with the Triple Shot and has a limited Fire Rate.
U235 SLUG: The Rapid Power Bullet Type. Fires super-fast bullets that cause devastating damages. Is effective against Rammers and Blockers, but weak on Pulsars and Drones.

Along with the weapons, you can deploy mines that damage or destroy multiple enemies and break "Glitchy Walls" to reveal the shortcuts. But keep in mind, the mines also have the Splash Damage thing, so get as far as possible of the bomb if you don't want to get killed.

The ships are unlocked by different ways such as clearing a level without destroying an enemy, even if they're destroyed by explosive crates, clearing the game in less than 6 minutes, or using the consoles to switch the "Alpha-Beta-Gamma" state in a specific order, and to save you time i'll give you the sequence for stages 1 through 9: Alpha-Beta-Gamma Beta-Gamma-Alpha Gamma-Alpha-Beta. The unlockable ships have different status such as less armor but faster, or slower but with more ammo capacity. But the best part is they have different amounts of slots which can be used on upgrades.

Knowing is Power and Knowing what to equip is essential to survive.

Each ship has its amount of Slots which can be used to install useful upgrades like increasing your fire rate, have more life, increase your ammo or have a radar to watch the layout of the stage. Keep in mind, some ships have different slot capacities and you should pick those upgrades wisely if you want to survive or unlock an achievement like "The Teller" which involves using the Hacking Support to find Archives in Stage 4.

Remember kids: Goin' Rad is Bad.

All the fun goes down for several reasons. Starting off with the omission of the memorization due to the procedural generation of the levels, something that helps players like remembering enemy patterns and formations is non-existant here because the game randomly generates the levels, so we are pitted in a no room for error level where we don't know what to expect. But the random layout is not excent of screw ups.

Nice, [Expletive] beautiful, now how i'm gonna get the "The Core" achievement?, that's what we can call AI: Artificial Idiocy.

Apparently, the procedural generation is not perfect because sometimes it will commit screw ups like putting a Shortcut in the same spot as a console, so it can't be taken, or worse, not placing the console in the level, making the XF-490 ship unlock and achievement virtually impossible for that gaming session. So, having a console on levels 1 through 9 is a real matter of luck.

The worst of the game flaws is the Radiation, which acts as the time limit before death, but the critical problem here is that the radiation slowly takes over your life bar, reducing its total at the point of making you vulnerable to the weakest shot if you're not fast enough to find an Anti-Radiation item or you don't find a Radiation Scrubber in time. While Radiation Scrubbers can be used for return your life bar size back and deplete the radiation that overpowers it, they're not permanent like Space Shuttle Project's Oxygen containers of the dreaful space station segments, so after using a Scrubber for a certain period of time it will explode, and what's worse, Scrubbers are also destructible too, which can be a compromising issue because some weapons have expansive blasts that can destroy it by accident, and to make things worse, the game seems to have the Turrican issue of no after-hit invincibility, which means the enemy can deplete your life in a quick attack.

Second worst problem is the ammo ran outs. Your initial weapon breaks the unwritten rule of shooting that mentions default weapons should have unlimited ammunition because it's the player's only defense when other weapons are disabled. Atomic Heist says "Screw that". Your ship has 150 ammo for all weapons, and sometimes that is not enough to destroy large enemies, because instead of consuming 1 point, most weapons consume 2 in a single shot. Speaking of weapons, the game features the "Splash Damage", that means a big enough explosion (Napalm Cells, explosive containers, mines) can take multiple enemies. This doesn't sound bad if we ignore the fact that the explosion also damages you and even kill you, even your very own Napalm Cells can harm you, something that will be very common since you'll be navigating through narrow corridors most of the time. If friendly fire wasn't already enough problem, there's another one: Recoil. The ship is pushed backwards with every shot, and the recoil effect turns for the worse with each Fire Rate upgrade.

Stage hazards are also present, boulders that crushes you resulting on instant death are the most common. However, the crushers also affect the enemies so we have an exploitable hazard if you know how to use it in your favor. The worst of them are the blue flames that increase your radiation. The obvious option is to avoid to touch them or push them away, but guess what?, most of the times they're placed in strategically cruel places ensuring you'll touch them due to the narrowness of the tunnels, and worse, the enemies can destroy those explosive crates that cause those flames.

Trial and error is one thing, but when the game only gives you one life to complete 10 levels with hostile conditions such as these, we're having an almost unenjoyable and virtually unplayable experience, unless the game gives you 1 Ups, or "1 Extra Live" (Yes, they can't spell "Life" correctly). While those appear at pure random an apparenlty on higher levels, the game is gentle enough to keep them up on the next gaming session, so if you died with 4 lives and quit the game, the next time you'll get those four lives ready, increasing your chances of clearing a few more stages, once you get at least 8 of them you'll have some good chances of finishing the game.

Don't forget to activate your HUD or you'll be sorry.

Another instance of videogame idiocy can be found in the "Terminal Hub", whenever you start the game, you'll have to step on the Power-Up select station and activate the "ENABLE SHIP'S HUD" before starting either the normal game or picking the daily challenge. Something that should be included by nature like the Heads-Up Display is deactivated for no logical reason, and during the game this deactivated thing problem goes for the worse when the Radiaton Scrubbers are not working because the game randomly deactivates them and you have to find the console to activate them (If you didn't blew them up by accident). The same goes for the lights because sometimes you'll be blacked out with limited visibility.

Peace sells...but everyone hesitates to buy.

Picking Power-ups in stations is another problem. ┬┐Why?, because it adds side effects like "flames will hurt you", "strong but lose 15% health", that might worked on the Skulls of the Halo series, but not in here, and they only add more problems than benefits in a large time. Also, you can get Super Power Ups by destroying the base, getting the "Repair Item", repeating the process 2 more times, then repair the base spending the three Repair Items and then, pick the Super Power Up which grants you super benefits like refilling your ammo after clearing a level, but they have even worse negative side effects too like reducing your life by 2 points or increasing the enemies rate of fire. However, picking the Super Power Ups is part of the "Super Hero" Achievement so you'll have no choice but to pursuit power if you're on a Gamerscore point hunting.


After hitting the "Mission Failed!" screen over and over again, and despite if you used the shortcuts or don't or if you destroyed the 100% of enemies in all stages, you'll get this sorry excuse for an ending.
I know i'm spoiling the game, but i prefer to do it so you don't have to buy a bad game like this. Like Angry Video Game Nerd said on The Karate Kid review: "It's like coming out of a brutal fight, being the winner, but achieving nothing for all your troubles, but some bloody bruises and broken bones. It's just not worthy."
The game has a total of 31 Achievements, and a total of 1,000 Gamerscore points. So if you're on a Gamerscore hunt, this game will provide you a challenge...if you like hard-as-nails difficulty, unfair traps and screwed situations.

The Daily Mode: Today's challenge will have six NEGATIVE side-effects on your ship. Good Luck out there.

The game features an additional mode called the "Daily". This mode consists of facing a random challenge like a "Challenge of the Day", that consists on complete the game with a random ship and random Power Ups with their respective side-effects. These challenges can be re-taken if you fail.

I got nailed in a raid last night, they tried to haul me off to jail.
Things were looking kind of serious 'till everybody got delirious.

There's two hidden additional modes: The first one is the Arena Mode, which pits you against never ending hordes of enemies. The objective there is simple: Destroy as many enemies as possible before dying. In this mode, you don't have to worry about the ammunition or the radiation devouring your life bar. The only problem is that unlike other games where they throw you small enemies in large numbers, the game tosses the big strong guys at you (Commandos and Bombers with Healers) resulting in an unbalanced and overpowering force that will take you down before reaching the 100 kills, making the 100 and 200 kills achievements almost impossible. Even worse, the recoil and the friendly fire Splash Damage of the explosives and Napalm Cells makes things far more difficult as you can imagine. Oh, never mind. I've learned the easy way to do the 200 kills achievement: Equip the ship with the Splinter Round, get in the "U" structure and fire vertically nonstop.
To unlock the Arena Mode, just drop a bomb on the door in the Terminal Hub, then enter the door.

Looks like a Newgrounds game being played in a very broken monitor.

The second mode is the SIGC, which is a Space Invaders clone, there's no need to explain how to play this game. Just shoot and avoid enemy fire while keep them from hitting the bottom of the screen. To unlock this game, equip your ship with the Hacking Support upgrade and hack one of the "SIGC" marked computers in Stage 5.

Graphically, the game aims to the basic 2D style, but the way the stage layout is designed makes me think more of vertical Run-N-Gun games like Alien Syndrome and XenoCrisis at the point of looking like a palette swap where the human characters are spaceships. But the worst part is the gigantic FPS slowdown during the Arena Mode when there's a lot of enemies on screen, makes me really worry about the game's stability because it gives that "This game will crash in any moment" feeling. The soundtrack is very bland and forgettable for an attempt to make a suspenseful action style soundtrack, and it's not worth to mention.

For being a vertical-scrolling shmup based on non-stop exploration and exploiting features to unlock things, Atomic Heist feels more like an overhead Run-N-Gun with a "ship instead of man" palette swap. While the game had all the potential for being fun, the fun factor had a meltdown and is now gone, leaving only a game with no sense of mercy at all. If you're curious of how not to make a game, then find a gameplay video on Youtube. Don't bother playing this game.

Atomic Heist is the eternal testament of how people do not understand the difference between difficult and impossible. Not even its 1,000 Gamerscore is worth the time, and patience for idiocy has its limits.
Fan of Transformers, Shmups and Anime-styled Girls. You're teamed up with the right pilot!
Bringing you shmup reviews with humorous criticism.

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