|System: X360 (XBLC)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Novaleaf Game Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: N/A||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 22, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: N/A||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Survival mode is the most basic: It's just the regular game, except you pick Life or Death Mode at the start, and instead of cooperating with your friends, you compete to kill the most enemies.
Turrets adds a strategic twist. You have several turrets to deploy around the screen, and they fire fairly rapidly and accurately at your opponents. The goals are to set up the turrets to destroy your opponents, to shoot your opponents' turrets until they explode, and, well, to not die.
In Wire Cycle, you have a long tail that follows your ship, and the goal is to get your friends to run into it before you run into theirs (in this mode, your ship moves forward automatically, so you can't just stay in one place). Lasso is similar, but with creatures as well as the other players' ships on the screen.
Froghop takes cues from Geometry Wars 2's King mode, in that you move from safety zone to safety zone. However, the zones in Froghop stay put, and you get points based on how many "laps" you complete between them.
In Worms, the only mode in which you can't choose between Life and Death modes, there are a lot of (of course) worms crawling around the screen, and you rack up points by traveling close to them without touching them. Here, the game's physics really come into play, because you can ram your opponents to knock them into worms.
Unfortunately, the competitive modes aren't playable online, and there's no way to play them against an A.I. opponent. These are features the developers might want to add in the future (or a sequel), presuming they're even possible within the limitations of the Community system (size probably shouldn't be an issue, as Battle takes up only 51 MB of the 150 MB cap).
When it comes to presentation, Biology Battle is impressive coming from an independent studio. The graphics look nice, especially when they depict big, glowing enemies. The sound effects are rather standard for the genre, but they get the job done. We didn't notice any technical glitches at all, which reflects well upon either the developers, the Community's review process, or both. Perhaps the only problem is the music; there's a techno number that sounds ripped right out of Geometry Wars, and a few rock tracks that don't really fit the game's science-fiction theme.
All considered, Biology Battle is a terrific example of what the Xbox Live Community can accomplish. A small, foreign company has put its best foot forward and offered consumers some fresh twists on an old-but-resurgent genre, packing it all together in a slick, polished presentation.
Yes, it's missing some features we'd expect from a full-out Xbox Live Arcade release, and it's especially frustrating that the best modes aren't available to single players. Sure, it owes some major debts to Geometry Wars. But there's a ton of innovation here, and arcade-shooter fans would be well-advised to give it a download. The developers and Community should be proud.
CCC Freelance Writer