In a post Geometry Wars 2 world, there isn’t any real reason for the existence of other twin stick shooters. However Heavy Weapon, put out by casual game juggernaught Popcap Games, makes a good case for itself with its cute, yet gritty art style and unique focus on well… Heavy Weapons.
It’s 1984. An unnamed nation of freedom loving people are invaded by the army of a nation of communistic jerks (I wonder who?) After a long war, the freedom lovers find themselves pushed against a corner, outmanned, and outgunned. With their final please, they call for help, they call for the power of heavy weapons, they call for Atomic Tank!
As Atomic Tank, your job is to kill everything. Starting at the beginning of the level and proceeding on a traditional 2D plane, your little ball of destruction is meant to obliterate anything in view; whether it flies, drives or floats. Your tank is perpetually moving, but you can move it left or right along the ground with the left stick. The right stick is used to aim at the baddies, usually in the form of aircraft, although the game does throw some ground vehicles at you sporadically. Luckily for Atomic Tank, he’s come equipped for the job. Well equipped.
Atomic Tank starts with a machine gun, which certainly does the job, but as he completes missions he earns upgrades. The player decides what to spend their upgrade points on and for the most part, the augments are really useful. Atomic Tank can be outfitted with lasers, flak cannons, shields, missiles and more. Once you’ve upgraded your tank a bit, it makes the in-game screen look bonkers as it’s filled up with your fire.
Atomic Tank also earns special bonuses in the middle of a level. Support copters drop him temporary power-ups to his guns and shields provided you don’t shoot them down on accident. As Atomic Tank shoots down the various baddies, he also picks up nukes and super laser pieces. The nuke plays the part of the traditional twin stick bomb, wiping everything from the screen. Once you collect four pieces of the super laser however, you get a temporary beam of destruction that erases anything it touches instantly. All of these weapons seem like they would serve to make Heavy Weapon’s difficulty a breeze, and for the most part it is… until it isn’t.
In the first few levels of Heavy Weapon there really isn’t much to be threatened by. Most enemies get taken down with a shot or two, and most of the stuff they’re shooting at you can be shot down before they hit you. After a stint of really easy levels, the game suddenly flips the script on you. It gets mean. The aircrafts become huge in size and resistant to your fire, and they start shooting indestructible bullets (like we’re used to). They also start dropping bombs that need to be shot down or else they destroy everything on the ground, including you. The surge in difficulty seems intense at first, but once Atomic Tank adapts, it becomes rewarding to overcome it.
Heavy Weapon boasts a really interesting art style, being both gritty and cutesy at the same time. Atomic Tank himself is a super-deformed version of a regular tank, but the enemy vehicles don’t really have any artistic spin to them, save for the color palette used. The backgrounds are filled with interesting things to look at, sometimes distractingly. While in the heat of battle, there are dinosaurs and Loch Ness monsters scattered throughout the background. The game definitely has a sense of humor, but nothing is really truly funny in the way that Behemoth’s games are.
Heavy Weapon boasts a few online modes that are basically variations on the regular deathmatch. These have the potential to be fun, but at this point in the game’s life, there isn’t really anyone playing anymore. That stuff is there for those who are willing to find it, and it’s not bad either.
Unfortunately, Heavy Weapon is ultimately beaten out by Geometries Wars’ simplistic, yet addicting gameplay; and ingenious front end. But for those looking for something for something different, yet in the same vein of Geometry Wars, Heavy Weapon is a good way to spend that 800 points.
Interesting art style that never truly distinguishes itself from others.
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Good twin-stick shooter gameplay is marred by jarring changes in difficulty.
Several challenge modes are available after you complete the main game. There are also some multiplayer options avaible.
A good change of pace for fans of Twin-Stick shooters.