XBLIG Review: Honor in Vengeance II

See those red dots on the radar? Those are enemies. You've got a lot of work to do...

By: David Cooper

After debuting in January with the original Honor in Vengeance, developer MichaelArts returns with the sequel, titled Honor in Vengeance II funnily enough, a 3D space shooter centred on story and action.

At first glance, Honor in Vengeance II is possibly the best tech demo available on the XBLIG marketplace. While most indie games choose to stay retro, with 2D gameplay and pixelly sprites, this is a fully 3D environment, with well-modelled spaceships and levels. At times, you could even be excused for mistaking this for a full retail release — soaring miles above a planet’s surface makes the best use of the 360’s power that I have seen in a game of this scale.

Gameplay is more than functional, if a little basic. You can accelerate, steer and shoot, as you might expect, and you can also command teammates into different formations, although this doesn’t seem to make too much of a difference. Shoot enough enemies down and you’ll be rewarded with a powerup of your choosing: rapid fire, homing missiles or temporary invincibility, but your choice here is unlikely to result in a life-or-death scenario.

What I found remarkable is that this felt like a real, full game to start with. I was flying around a 3D space, with decent graphics and controls that didn’t feel like I was attempting to strangle a giraffe. There is little complexity to what can be achieved, which may turn some players off, but the simplicity of it gives it a nice arcadey feel, which suits me fine. Additionally, real production values are shown: it’s clear some actual thought has been put into the plot, and effort into the presentation. There’s even voice acting!

So, the boxes are ticked so far: this is one of the sturdiest games available in the indie marketplace. But functionality alone does not make for a great game, there needs to be a decent structure to lead the player along, and this is where Honor in Vengeance II is lacking.

A major problem I encountered is the absence of direction or objective, and as a result often found it difficult to proceed. One level told me to “destroy the fighters,” and left it at that. Can you be a little more specific, game? I was plunged head first into a sea of enemy spacecraft, with a little scenery, and nothing to do but shoot them down and explore a little. The game offers no hints as to whether you are progressing in any way, and so I aimlessly shot down dozens of ships for half an hour without reward.

The enemies themselves are pretty brain dead, offering no challenge to the player. While initially it is impressive to be faced with such a vast number swarming around, they rarely take any initiative, or even attack, meaning that picking them off is like shooting fish in a barrel. As a result, a lot of my time playing was simply spent circling around, shooting down as many as I could, then circling around again, diving through the herd with little danger each time. Lather, rinse, repeat. Not too exciting, especially considering there is minimal variety in weaponry, and the ones you are given don’t pack too mighty a punch.

Therefore, Honor in Vengeance II is not as impressive as it might seem at first. It is exciting to see something like this exist on the indie game scene, especially on the Xbox 360, as it implies innovation and thinking outside the typical indie games offered, but the execution is somewhat sloppy.

The solution here is simple: another sequel is required. If as much time was put into the overall design of the game and world, rather than the mechanics, then Honor in Vengeance could be a force to be reckoned with. However, at the moment there is just not enough here to keep players satisfied. My suggestion would be to hold off for now and wait until MichaelArts can figure out how to make an enjoyable game, instead of just an extremely playable one.

OVERALL (2.5/5)

It’s a shame to be so down on Honor in Vengeance II, as I really wanted to love it. With more exciting levels and things to do this could be a blast, but at the moment it’s just an excuse to slaughter dozens of defenseless spaceships aimlessly — which isn’t as fun as it might sound.

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About Herija Green

Avid gamer, adventurous lover and all-around damned handsome man...
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39 Responses to XBLIG Review: Honor in Vengeance II

  1. Thank you for the giveaway and good luck to all!! BTW, ‘gratz to the winner 😉
    @DntMessWitRohan

  2. 1mariochief says:

    I think this would be a pretty cool game to play.
    @mariochief1

  3. GARRETT says:

    Thanks!
    @garrett0024

  4. lawlpwned says:

    Thanks for the opportunity!
    @LawlPwned

  5. MyFire says:

    The game looks good I don´t know why a 2.5/5, I have to try it so I confirm that grade XD

    @MyPyrito

  6. blakepro says:

    Great review. Thanks for the contest.
    Ripe for the winning!
    @blakepro

  7. Jake T says:

    Nice review, hope I win one of these & thanks for the contest!
    @jake_jenova

  8. Brian says:

    Read over the review and now I want the game!
    @brianosaurusrex

  9. Mackslappy says:

    The demo was okay but I agree with the review score.
    @mackslappy

  10. Tez says:

    wtf? this is one of the most stand out indie games ive played on xbox.

  11. Brian says:

    Id like to try it for myself 😉
    @Masterpitviper

  12. Andrew says:

    Please enter me for a code for this game. Thanks!

    @alee67

  13. Gram says:

    I’d like to give this game a try.
    @Gram_Cracker

  14. Great review! This looks like a great XBLIG
    @dbnguyen

  15. oli chooi says:

    Sounds interesting, good review.
    @tigergen

  16. Good review and thanks for the opportunity to win =)
    @ribbonhearts206

  17. I’m interested in this game thanks to your review
    @sgn2

  18. Good luck to everyone!
    @mrlibraryan

  19. Thank you for the review!
    @jeffreynguyen

  20. And here we go!
    @ductongue

  21. Best XBLIG in the marketplace right now. Great production values
    @dahlindan

  22. Count me in FTW
    @iamlauratran

  23. Thank you for the chance
    @aznxchunky

  24. doubled215 says:

    I want to win!
    @doubleD215

  25. Andy says:

    Sounds fun 🙂

  26. Chris says:

    I wants it!
    @ChrisHolland70

  27. Kenny says:

    Sounds pretty good
    @bittripfan

  28. Letsgetacid says:

    Good to see some XBLIG getting coverage

  29. yhblazed says:

    In for the win!

    @_yousufhussain_

  30. Labah says:

    Nice Game
    @labahotei

  31. JohnG says:

    Here’s to hoping there are good updates?

  32. fresh0288 says:

    Enter me!
    @fresh0288

  33. ArrenDusk says:

    I’m in.

    @Gamingftw92

  34. Thanks for the giveaway!
    @Jragon274

  35. John Went says:

    Cool game!
    @JayJiang1

  36. JohnG says:

    Not too shabby!

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