|System: X360 (Xbox Live)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Wanako Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Sierra Online||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 14, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
It seems like it was only yesterday that Microsoft announced the Xbox 360's Live Arcade download service. As an early example of great original games on the service, Assault Heroes surprised many people with its excellent right-stick shooting gameplay. Many players immediately fell in love with this game's nonstop action and crossed their fingers for a sequel. Thankfully, Assault Heroes 2 (AH2) is finally here and has made some notable improvements this time around.
AH2 begins much the same way the first did: a paragraph of text, perhaps written on a cocktail napkin the night before, scrolls onto an otherwise empty screen. This small chunk of text is actually the only attempt at a storyline that is present in the entire game. The basic gist of the paragraph is the enemy you defeated in the first AH wasn't the real problem. Instead, he was only the pawn of your new adversary in AH2. Fortunately, fast-paced arcade action is the main focus of the series and not the incredibly underwhelming storyline.
In a game where precision is key, it is nice to have accurate and responsive controls. You will easily be able to maneuver adequately and fire accurately, both on foot and in any of the game's many vehicles. The Jeep is back and is an excellent example of how speed and firearms should be mixed. As you drive around the numerous levels in the game, you will feel that you truly are in complete control of your fate. It is entirely possible to avoid taking fatal damage if you are constantly moving and firing wisely. Switching between your four weapons is also a breeze, allowing you to choose the weapon that best suites your situation. The new ice gun will make short work of helicopters; the flak cannon puts a stop to larger vehicles; the flame thrower quickly incinerates infantry units; and the mini-gun will work on just about anything.
AH2 also includes some other unique vehicles of destruction. Unfortunately, these other options do little to make you want to abandon the incredibly versatile Jeep. Instead of just allowing the player to choose an enemy vehicle to hijack, the game carefully places specific vehicles that you take for a spin. The attack helicopter is fun but incredibly weak; the armored tank is powerful but difficult to maneuver; and the mechanical walker feels similarly sluggish while in motion. Another major issue with these vehicles is the fact that you don't get to use all of your weapons while operating them. You are limited to just a standard mini-gun with an added turret in the armored tank, which further makes leaving your Jeep seem pointless. These vehicles do add some variety to the gameplay, but are easily ignored because of these unnecessary drawbacks.
Most of the game is the same top-down, vehicle-based action fans have come to expect. AH2 does include some segments that force players to exit their Jeep and progress on foot. Because you now have the ability to roll away from otherwise unavoidable damage and switch between any of your four core weapons at any point, getting out of your Jeep is no longer the kiss of death it once was. However, more caution is always required while playing on foot, since you will still maneuver much slower and are incredibly more vulnerable to your enemies' attacks. Being on foot certainly isn't ideal by any means, but it is definitely a lot more manageable this time around thanks to these incredibly useful improvements.