Written by Brock Poulsen, brockst4r Sunday, 05 June 2011 07:45
Super Stardust HD is a frenetic twin-stick shooter in the vein of Geometry Wars. It's an excellent game for short sessions or gaming marathons; the gameplay is obstensibly simple but has layers and depth that are unexpected. It's part of Sony's Welcome Back Program, and if it's not already a part of your collection you should seriously consider it.
Gameplay modes are not terribly varied; there is Single-Player and Co-Op, and a choice between Arcade or Planet mode. But due to the physics engine and variety of enemies and obstacles, no two games ever feel alike. Giant masses of rock burst apart with every shot in a system that hearkens back to the simple days of classics like Asteroids but with gorgeous HD graphics.
As the player progresses, weapon power-ups become increasingly rare. When they appear they cycle through the three firing modes before eventually becoming merely Points bonuses and then disappearing altogether. Weaving through hordes of enemies to snag a weapon power-up is thrilling, and serves the break-neck pace. The player can also try to time the pick-up for when it becomes the desired weapon, but then risks being overcome by swarms of enemies or losing the power-up altogether.
The game can be punishing, especially on higher difficulties. One-hit kills are harsh in a world of regenerating health and shields. But it never feels unfair; there are multiple ways to escape the rapidly closing jaws of death. Bombs are limited, but devastating. The ship has a Boost that never runs out, but must recharge between each use. The Boost rockets the ship across the level and makes it temporarily invulnerable. Both escape tactics are important for your survival.
Super Stardust HD is an excellent addition to any PSN collection, and a beautiful game with tons of depth. It has gorgeous graphics and lightning fast load times, letting you dive right into the action.