The controls, meanwhile, are superbly implemented. On the default setting, the digital D-pad takes the role of moving the little, claw-shaped ship, while the touch-screen directs the stream of bullets – just drag around the little vessel in the middle of the screen, while using the visual indicators on the main game screen to see the current position of the stylus and the current direction of fire. And when things get too tight, simply tap the left shoulder button and unleash a smart bomb to clear some room.
You could play using the D-Pad and the face buttons, instead, but – frankly – you’d be mad to. While the D pad isn’t quite as responsive or as flexible for speedy moves as the analogue stick was in the 360 original, the touchscreen is arguably more accurate. For the first few games you might struggle with the DS setup, but the more you get into it, the more intuitive the new approach becomes, as you effortlessly dodge through packs of incoming shapes while simultaneously sweeping the bullet stream around to wipe them out.
The basic Retro Evolved mode works much as it did in the 360 version; wave after wave of enemies appear, and your only concern is who to blast and where to dodge. Ratcheting up a bigger, better high score is, of course, the name of the game, and once again there’s an online leaderboard for those with Wi-Fi, albeit one without quite the cachet of the one on Xbox Live. For most of us, this is going to be the real meat of the game, as we push further and further through increasingly manic waves of enemies, desperately searching for a new tactic or just an extra blast of energy that can see us through a few more seconds of action. It’s the sort of thing obsessions are made of, and you can waste hours trying to achieve a new high score, partly because the more you play and the better you get, the longer you have to play to get up to the same level.
This could, you might think, damage GW:G’s potential as a take-anywhere, handheld game. After all, a game that relies on highly-focused, twitch-heavy action over five, ten and fifteen minute periods (or even longer) isn’t exactly the ideal contender for the bus. Luckily, Kuju seems to have realised this as well, because the headline Galaxies mode shoehorns the basic GW gameplay into a less time-intensive mission structure. You have a selection of Galaxies, each consisting of a handful of planets, each planet representing a level of action.
You’re accompanied by a drone, which improves with experience, and your new job (apart from blasting and surviving) is to collect the local currency, or Geoms. By earning Geoms you can give your drone new roles (e.g. harvesting geoms or defending the ship) and, more importantly, pay to unlock new galaxies and new planets. The trick is that, while you collect Geoms for everything you blast, you only get the megabucks by achieving particular score-based medals. This encourages you to play each level until you hit the mark.
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