Beat Hazard. It’s been available for nearly a year on the Indie marketplace, as well as STEAM, yet I still come across people who haven’t heard of it. It uses the basic Geometry Wars formula but the gameplay heavily involves the use of music. Should you avoid this hazard altogether? Read on to learn more about it. 

Cold Beam Games took the original Geometry Wars formula and improved it in a sense.  When you first boot the game up, you’ll be treated to flashing lights matched with pulsating beats – and that’s what Beat Hazard is all about. There’s the one standard gameplay  mode where the game offers you 10 instrumental tracks to play. You can play alone, or if you have a friend it also supports local co-op! The XBLIG version automatically supports any music you have on your consoles’ hard drive or streaming from your PC. If you’ve got the Steam version, the add-on to allow the use of DRM-free music is only $1.00 – and it’s an extremely worthwhile expense. Using your own music library, Beat Hazard virtually has no limits. 

In the game, you control a small ship and it’s controlled with the left analogue stick while the right analogue is used to shooting. As mentioned earlier, the game uses music as a core element of its gameplay. Essentially, the louder or more intense the music is, the more intense the gameplay will become. For example, if you are playing to Elton Johns’ “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”, your ships’ firepower will be relatively weak, yet so will the enemies. If you try out “Through Fire and Flames” by Dragonforce, prepare for a blinding display of lights and intense waves of enemies.  Depending on the music, you may encounter powerful “boss” ships in the game that pack a lot of firepower, and heavier songs can bring a seemingly never-ending  stream of these guys.

While maneuvering around the screen and decimating massive hordes of enemy ships and meteors, you’ll find pickups to help you power-up. There are volume and firepower power-ups, both of which will make your ship stronger and increase the intensity of the gameplay. Plus, you’ll see many +1 icons from destroying enemies, and these increase your score multiplier. It’s not uncommon to easily reach a 300x multiplier so don’t be afraid if you miss a few. If you’re hit by an enemy and killed, your multiplier, volume, and firepower will decrease slightly and you’ll need to pick up more power-ups.  At full weapon power, you get the “Beat Hazard” weapon which essentially is just a really massive and constant spray of firepower.  Keep an eye out for bombs floating down the middle of the screen as well – they’re rather limited, and they are a massive help in clearing the screen of enemies when you need to. 

Although Microsoft doesn’t allow Indie games to support achievements yet, Cold Beam Games has gone one step further for us. Beat Hazard features 12 “Challenges” which are viewable in the main menu. There’s 200 points to earn in total, and you’ll need to spend a minimum of 10 hours playing the game (which isn’t hard at all) to earn them all. Alongside the challenges, the game has various ranks to meet, solely based on your overall accumulated score. Reaching new ranks rewards you in various ways. You can get extra power-ups at the start, lose less when you die,  and more.  These little extras aren’t required, but they help to increase the replay value and general fun factor and they are very welcome.

Beat Hazard is absolutely stunning in the visuals department. You’ll encounter every color of the rainbow with lights in the game. At times, the flashes are matched with the beats, while other times it’s flashing just for extra eye candy. The included soundtrack is short, but all 10 beats sound fantastic and they’re extremely fun to play. Menu’s are pretty simple, though there are a couple small annoyances. The main menu supports a visualizer option to  have random songs play with the Beat Hazard visuals – but if you go into the game, you can’t go back to that without exiting and re-launching the game. Plus, when you enter the game mode, you have to choose to use the Xbox 360 or PC for the music source, and if you wish to change the source, you’ll need to re-launch for that as well. Aside from those issues, the game plays well, and while you may experience some slowdown issues while using a bomb on the “Intense” difficulty, Beat Hazard remains to be a very smooth and wonderful experience.

Beat Hazard is one of the very few Indie games that will set you back 400 :MSPoints: and I think this is a breaking point for many people. Just because it’s an Indie game it should have to be 80-240 :MSPoints: and while I realize many XBLIG games are not “must-have” titles – Beat Hazard is a clear exception. Endless variety in its gameplay, single and local co-op, challenges and ranks to surpass, and the ability to use custom music  are all reasons on why you should own this game. If you don’t, go buy it. Seriously, click the marketplace link below and purchase Beat Hazard. Even with its few tiny issues, Beat Hazard is a stellar title that deserves to be part of your collection.

For more information and to purchase Beat Hazard, visit the Xbox.com Marketplace.

Rating
Description
10Gameplay
Old review system import, no comments available
10Graphics
Old review system import, no comments available
10Sound
Old review system import, no comments available
9.5Final Score