AtomHex is a Geometry Wars inspired twin stick shooter with some new new ideas to bring to the table. You control a space ship trapped in a world of Atoms and Hexes using the left analogue stick to move and the right analogue stick to fire shots, these shots are coloured yellow, red, green and blue and you can only destroy enemies of the same colour. You change shot colour by collecting the coloured Hexes.
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Atoms and Hexes float around the screen and when they collide in the first instance they join together to make an Energised Hex. The Energised Hex starts to release enemies and requires more Atoms in order to grow, each additional Atom releases a new type of enemy which interacts and affects the game in various ways. For example the second enemy can pollinate the first enemy to create a spore which blocks your space ship. This continues up to the sixth Atom collected which transforms the Energised Hex into an Atom Hex where you automatically enter the Sub Atomic world for big scoring opportunities.
This method of building up the Energised Hexes gives the game a good strategic element where it pays not to go all out guns blazing and shoot everything in sight. You can of course shoot everything but you will not get the benefit of high scoring opportunities. There is a learning curve where in the first few games you will not have much idea what is going on, this will result in a short lived attempt but once you understand the structure of the game after a few tries it will all click into place.
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The aim of the game is to score as much as possible so you must take the risks to reap the rewards. The trick is to play the game in a way where you have some control over the game in what energised atoms you allow to grow, while trying to keep other energised atoms and enemies at bay with the coloured shots. Using this method will allow you build up your score multiplier, which are spawned when destroying enemies, in anticipation for the later stages such as the Sub Atomic world where you can really rack up the score. To aid you, power ups are also spawned which give you abilities such as a Freeze Bomb which freezes all items and enemies on the screen, and a Triple Shot which gives you improved firepower.
Graphics as mentioned are displayed in the Geometry Wars style and look colourful and vibrant. You can however sometimes find yourself getting lost in the packed screen because so much is going on. Music and sound effects of which there are plenty, work well and add to the fast paced nature of the game.
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Presentation is good and the in game tutorial introduces you the first time you play and is recommended you follow it to learn the game structure. There is only one game mode in AtomHex, but to be honest it is all you really need. You do have a choice of three difficulties; Normal, Hard and Insane, which in the third difficulty allows you to get some crazily high scores if you play well enough.
There are also 100 awards to collect, ranging from collecting a number of hexes, surviving for a length of time, collecting bonuses and to scoring set amounts. They will take some time to collect them all! The page changing on the Awards pages are a little cumbersome as pressing left or right can scroll too many pages at once and requires a bit of patience to tap the stick to get it changing one page at a time.
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I will be the first to admit that while I have always been a fan of these types of games I have never actually been good at them. AtomHex has the right balance of shooter and strategy which suits me well and it will keep you coming back for more as both newcomers and seasoned gamers of this genre will find many hours of fun. The full game costs just 80 :MSPoints: which is excellent for money and it comes highly recommended by me. You can find out more about the game and download the trial here.0