Xyanide Resurrection PS2 Review

This is the follow-up to the Xbox shoot ‘em up Xyanide, and the storyline about the witch Aguira and the mysterious xyanide continues. As you play, the story is told through the chapters of the unlocked “digital comic”, which is a nice addition to the package. More importantly, how does it play?

There are elements of Panzer Dragoon and the old CD-based shooter Microcosm thrown together here. The player’s ship constantly flies into the level, but can be rotated left and right to deal with threats appearing from behind. There are three main weapons at the player’s disposal. The spread guns fire basic shots that does damage to any target, while holding down Cross will prepare the rockets for lock-on and can hit multiple enemies for more damage. Finally, Circle launches a smart bomb that is detonated with another press of the button to take out everything onscreen. One important change from the Xbox game is the addition of crosshairs, which makes it easier to see where you are aiming.

Enemies fly in basic formations, allowing the player to pick them off. The radar helps the player by showing where the targets are, along with dangerous incoming rockets (which can be shot down). A chain multiplier can be increased by killing enemies within two seconds of the last, boosting the score. Towards the end of the level the enemies get tougher, giant asteroids and lumps of space debris threaten to destroy the player’s craft and finally a large end-of-level boss (with energy bar and multiple targets to hit) will appear. Once the level is over, the readout of the number of enemies destroyed and pieces of xyanide collected is shown. Xyanide is collected to recharge the ship’s energy and to buy extra weapons.

Another interesting aspect of the game is the branching level system, similar to that seen in OutRun 2. After completing the first level, there is a choice of two chapters – moving left towards the top of the level tree will give an easier path than the hard, right hand path. Between levels the player can also save their progress and upgrade weapons. This works on a “slot” basis, with four slots available. Old weapons can be sold off to earn more xyanide, and buying more than one of an item increases its power. For example, a single rocket pack gives you the ability to lock on to two enemies at a time. With two rocket packs you can lock onto four targets. The magnet draws in xyanide from destroyed enemies, while the shield offers extra protection. It is not the most comprehensive upgrade system, but it is different.

Three modes of play are available. The story is the main mode, and chapters unlocked by playing through it can then be tackled in Score Attack mode. A timer ticks down constantly, and destroying enemies releases extra icons. These include score bonuses, short-lived score multipliers (up to x5) and minus scores/score drains. There are more icons in the simultaneous 2-player mode, where tactical collection of the icons is essential to getting the highest score. One sneaky icon even switches the two players’ scores over.

There is a major drawback in the control method. While it is nice to have the HUD display and the controller layout explained to you at the start of every game, there is no option to redefine the buttons. Worst of all, there is no way to invert the Y-axis of the analogue controller – pushing up moves up the screen, down moves down, and you are stuck with that. A choice of pilot-style controls would have been more comfortable and suited to the game.

The presentation of the game is quite good, with above-average backgrounds and swirling effects and good status screens. The ruined city and the canyons are particularly effective. The bosses add some variety and require different tactics to conquer, but otherwise the mundane attack waves become repetitive. The digital comic chapters are worth watching, and there is also a gallery of artwork (unlocked by earning high scores) from the development of the game. Overall, though, it is not a very stimulating game as it relies heavily on reflexes and being in the right place. At a budget price or for a quick rental this is acceptable, although it’s definitely most suited to die-hard shoot ‘em up fans.