Under Defeat HD: Deluxe Edition – Review
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3
Who doesn’t remember the days when arcade-style console games and spending hours yelling at your television were commonplace? Those glorious days and nights when you died over and over again until you memorized an entire level just to pass it, and then the overwhelming feeling of awesomeness that inevitably ensued. Rising Star Games is there to remind us of such a time with a re-release of Under Defeat by G.rev, entitled Under Defeat HD: Deluxe Edition. For those who don’t remember this game, it first made its debut in arcades and on the Sega Dreamcast back in 2005-2006, and was only available in Japan. They have since seen the error of their ways and released a shiny new edition of the game to the world. The only exception is that European gamers will have to wait to get their hands on the game, as their release date is set for January 25, 2013. The game is available for digital download or in hard copy.
You begin with the tutorial, which can be pretty annoying for slow-readers, as there is literally a countdown on how much time you have to read the controls before it moves on. Thankfully, the mechanics are fairly simple: you are facing forward and can shoot at three angles (left, right, or in the middle), while moving around the screen. You also have two buttons to fire (one for basic attacks, the other for bombs). This type of simplistic gameplay is true of most shoot ‘em up (SHMUP) games on the market, and Under Defeat is no exception.
Though there is a very brief storyline (you are a World War II Nazi pilot in a fictional history), you do not get any of it when starting the game. You jump right into the action, and obliterate tanks, or shoot down enemy planes as you make your way through each level. As you progress you’ll encounter a variety of enemies, such as choppers, boats, and even grounded assault cannons. By the time you’re on level 3 (on any difficulty), you may find yourself racing around the screen wide-eyed just trying to stay alive. The difficulty to the levels is fairly high (even on Easy), and you will find yourself having to almost memorize the levels just to make it through in one piece.
Also of note is that each type of enemy has a different pattern, making it increasingly difficult to maneuver through each level. An example of this would be that tanks fire at you, and their ammo moves in a curve, while choppers hit you straight on. Don’t despair; this is the kind of game everyone will die repeatedly in just to advance, and has more to do with the memorization of the enemies and the timing than your talent. Thankfully, the game gives you three lives before it’s game over and you have to retry the level, so plan accordingly if you can!
You may find as you play that, though useful, bombing enemies on the ground causes dust and smoke to fly into the air, which will cover enemies both on the ground and up high. This can be especially dangerous as running into an enemy can lead to an instant death. These added effects make the game more of a challenge, but also help to create realistic gameplay. Another notable game issue is that when you die in a solo campaign there is a slight delay, which can create some confusion and make learning the mechanics more difficult. What makes it so perplexing is that there is no clear health indicator on your screen, so you can’t try to retrace your steps if you’ve missed seeing the final blow, and it is nearly impossible to plan ahead the next time around.
The Co-op isn’t much different than playing solo in this game, and it gives you the option to join or drop out of the combat as you need to. Since the Co-op campaign doesn’t change the level whatsoever, it’s much easier to get through the levels with a partner. Fortunately, the ‘death delay’ from the Solo campaign does not exist when you are in Co-op mode, so if you want to learn the levels quickly, you may want to ask a friend to help you out!
The major changes to the game are a touch up on the graphics and music, along with a new widescreen edition called New Order for those who wish to make full use of their HDTVs. New Order is displayed in 16:9 with new high definition graphics, while Arcade is slimmer and more true to its original form, also available to play. A great addition to Arcade is that it lets you select wallpaper from a list to use as a background, which can then be applied to the screen surrounding the gameplay – so if you are playing on a widescreen you can fill in the picture, instead of just having a black void surrounding the action. The only minor problem with the widescreen is that you are almost zoomed in too far. This makes the original much easier than the newer version, as you can see the enemies coming towards you more easily without the widescreen. Making the New Order slightly zoomed out would have improved the gameplay tenfold.
Under Defeat features a lot of realistic explosions, smoke and dust, and even detailed terrain, making the game visually appealing. Though each level does change the playing field graphically (with its salient, snow-scattered battlefield, or its dry and dusty desert), it still has a rinse-lather-repeat feel on every stage. The music in-game is fitting, and changes appropriately as you move from conquest to conquest. Adding a new feel to each level through its music (from the dramatic fast-paced action music to the quiet, exploratory tunes) helps to make the game a more complete package overall. There are even different sounds for the explosions and vehicles, surrounding you and helping the game feel more authentic. Keep in mind that by default the music is slightly drowned out by the sound effects in the game, so make sure you change this in the Options menu if you enjoy a good beat while you lay the smack-down on your enemies.
Overall the content is pretty status quo, and a little repetitive, but the basic joystick and two button, arcade-style formula is something you can play again and again by yourself or with a buddy. So get ready to relive those growing pains as you fight your way through blood, sweat, and (possibly) tears, blasting your way past all the levels of the game.
Under Defeat HD: Deluxe Edition receives a 4.25/5.0
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