Video Game Rentals Delivered

Assault Heroes 2 (XBLA)

David Yun (Xbox Live Gamertag - Vawce) David Yun (Xbox Live Gamertag - Vawce): (contact-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2008-05-17 11:28:33

Assault Heroes 2 (XBLA) - Rank B

Developer: Wanako Studios
Publisher: Sierra Online
Date: 5/14/08

I was fairly critical of the first Assault Heroes, and I think I was trying too hard to justify the C grade I slapped on it. I still stand by that assessment, but it was definitely closer to a B than a D. The core gameplay (vertically scrolling dual-stick shooter) was promising, and has been tightened up and expanded for this sequel.

Some of the differences are subtle; my initial reaction was that I liked it more than the original, but I had to go back and play the old one to figure out why. The controls are more responsive, the visuals are crisper, and most importantly, the level design is more exciting. For example, as you fight down a frozen river, a gigantic boss creature swims beneath you causing the ice to crack (you can check this out in the demo). This purely aesthetic touch goes a long way toward making a simple, mindless action experience more interesting. The environments are more detailed and interactive (i.e. everything can be satisfyingly destroyed). Assault Heroes 2 is essentially the same game, but with nimbler pacing, improved presentation, and denser action. The end result is a noticeable improvement.

In addition to a new weapon for your buggy (ice gun), you also have access to other combat vehicles. The helicopter, tank, and mech all have unique characteristics, and this change of pace is also a marked improvement over the previous game. The on-foot segments are also more fleshed out, with a dodge/roll maneuver that allows you to escape cheap deaths. Assault Heroes 2's massive boss fights are better as well. Instead of tedious wars of attrition, it features interesting wars of attrition.

There's also a spaceship with a Tesla ray gun (yay, cool!) to control, which usually handles like the other vehicles. However, for some inexplicable reason, the designers implemented a few segments where the view centers behind the spaceship for Death Star style runs. Those tight top-down perspective controls go flying out the window, forcing you to endure clumsiness that is incongruous with the rest of the game.

Like most games, Assault Heroes 2 is more fun with a buddy, and it supports local or online co-op play.

This time, I hope I haven't talked up Assault Heroes 2 too hard in order to justify the B grade. It's an improvement of degrees, and it's definitely closer to a C than an A. Ultimately, I simply feel that the subtle improvements push this sequel from "passable" to "worth playing", especially if you're an older gamer that misses the purity of the bygone coin-op era.

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