By: Uma Smith
We’ve seen enough FPS titles to know what to expect: a storyline that tries to captivate your attention, sets of objectives you need to complete and a whole lot of ammo types to unleash. However, developer WXP Games attempts to defy the conventions of the genre by incorporating different elements to its new release, in particular puzzle-solving and arcade-style gameplay.
Currently available on Xbox Live Arcade, Xotic will have players scratching their heads as they face the challenges offered by this ambitious title. At the end of the day, will the game deliver enough satisfaction to such “extreme” gamers or will its level of difficulty leave them “neurotic”?
Using the right stick controls the view perspective of your character and gun, as expected in a typical FPS title. Movement is quite responsive, which coupled with the smooth aim result in a pretty decent feel. Jumping feels a little too floaty, but that can be either a good or bad thing depending on how realistic you expect the physics to be.
However, there are issues that can arise from figuring out how to use certain objects that you collect. Theoretically, you should be able to fly with a certain item, but because there are no instructions on how to execute this feature, it pretty much becomes trial-and-error.
The problem with Xotic somehow stems not just from a lack of needed directions, but also at times from an excess of them. You’ll find yourself being bombarded with the on-screen text that is intended to help but becomes overwhelming due to the number of different buttons you must keep track of.
Xotic aims to distinguish itself from most other FPS titles by having (dare I say) an “exotic” look to its presentation. Various objects and environments appear to scream “in your face” with their glowing beauty and vibrant colors. Each level also has a unique look, which helps to captivate gamers’ attention spans.
Unfortunately, the music fails to stand out with its generic tunes. For an FPS game, it would have been nice to have some sense of excitement in the background. You do get some decent quality in terms of the sound effects, but overall there is some room for improvement in the audio department.
In Xotic, you assume the role of the savior whose goal is to rid the universe of the evil orb’s balls. It plays out as an FPS but with the “aim” of attaining a high score in an arcade-style fashion. You don’t get challenging AI opponents, nor is there a multiplayer feature. In fact, you’ll probably encounter at most about 10 enemies per level. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any challenges.
On the contrary, you have some choices to make while keeping in mind the objective of getting a high score, which you get to share globally online. You could choose to kill your enemies and progress to the next level in a matter of minutes, but you’ll be sacrificing your score, which ideally you’ll want to achieve by disposing of these evil orbs. The puzzle element of the game comes from figuring out the path you want to take to maintain and maximize your combo chain.
Across the game’s 23 levels are various power-ups that boost your abilities. Xotic also lets you upgrade the eight weapons you hold, similar to RPGs leveling. However, these improvements fail to make significant changes to the gaming experience. Additionally, once you gain access to all the upgrades, the excitement from getting a kick-ass weapon pretty much dies down.
With experience, you’ll still get quite a bit of amusement and enjoyment from the progress you make. It does have some replay incentive as it encourages you to revisit your completed levels to attain a higher score. For those that are open to a game that takes a difference approach in gameplay, this may have some appeal. But, if you’re used to the hardcore action and direct competition against other players, then you may want to look elsewhere as that is not what Xotic is all about.
It is evident that WXP Games has donned its creative hat when developing this XBLA title with gameplay that caters to individuals open to something unique and out of this world. I suggest trying out the demo to get a feel for this game before spending the 800 MS points. Depending on what you seek, Xotic could be entertaining or too… “exotic” for your tastes.