|System: X360 (XBLA)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Games Distillery||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Xbox LIVE Arcade||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 19, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: E 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The biggest problem with the technical side of the presentation, however, is that far too often, it goes glitchy or freezes. We dealt with some serious screen flicker, and it froze our Xbox several times. We're hoping these issues will be resolved in an update, but they really should have been handled before release.
Between missions, there are some cutscenes that tell a story, along with some very well-done comic-book-style illustrations. The illustrations are a visual treat, but the story is a rather pointless distraction. Evidently, the land of Aqua is caught up in a war between two naval powers, and as Captain Benjamin Grey, you must manipulate the two sides to save the world. Your smart-aleck female companion, engineer Polly Edison, provides air support.
There are some competitive and co-op multiplayer modes here as well; though, aside from leaderboards, they're only local, not online. There are six maps total, and they fall into two categories: "Chase," in which you race between checkpoints and kill enemies, and "Arena," in which you fend off waves of enemies. These are a nice additions by all means, especially Chase, which plays a little like an old-school top-down racer, but they won't extend the game's life by too much; they're just too simple to turn you into a full-blown addict.
All in all, Aqua is fun. There's no denying that. The question, however, is whether you should spend your time and money on this game as opposed to another one, and between the short length, gameplay problems, and freezing issues, it's hard to say that you should. Hardcore fans of free-roaming shoot-'em-ups shouldn't let this chance to visit the genre pass them by, but even they might want to try the less ambitious (but also less frustrating) Exisled, an amazingly fun Xbox LIVE Community game that sells for $5, first. We're interested to see what the developers do next, but we hope they focus less on telling a story, which is not their strong suit, and more on honing the basics.
CCC Freelance Writer