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Tag Archives: Beat Hazard

That’s right! The showdown! The classic (well, classic enough) “play your music” game Audiosurf, vs the brand new Beat Hazard. Which is better? You’re about to find out!

I’ll start off talking about Audiosurf. Released a couple of years ago this was the first game (that I was aware of) to rave reviews, with a Metacritic score of 88. Coinciding with the rise of ‘casual’ gaming, yet including increased difficulty levels and modes that only those with the fastest reactions can beat, Audiosurf was immensely popular, and with good reason. The gameplay is fast, frantic, and flashy (YES! I finally used alliteration in a review!) and will have you sitting hunched over your keyboard for hours trying to get the gold medal and a high score, it certainly did me. The general idea is race down a track generated based on the pacing, volume, and intensity of your music collecting bricks which correspond loosely to the tune. “Hotter” colour bricks reward the most points with “cooler” colours being more common but less rewarding. In order to score you have to collect a column or row of 3 bricks of an identical colour, the more adjacent bricks, the higher the score. A pretty simple concept yet one that is strangely addictive. The addition of a 2 player co-op mode made this accessible to my friends as well, as it meant they could join in and we could have competitions.

An interesting feature is the different game modes available. You can choose to play as one of several classes, ranging from one which turns all bricks into grey or coloured, only rewarding you for collecting coloured bricks and having to grey ones fill up and get in the way of your columns. Or eraser, allowing you to remove specific colours from your columns in order to allow you to create connections. These vary in difficulty and usefulness, but it is fun to explore the different gameplay methods involved in these.

However the real gem in the mix is the online score tables. If you create an account, Audiosurf logs your score in a worldwide rankings table. Not only that but it uses the mp3 ID tag to include the name of the band and song, in order to create rankings for each and every song that anyone plays. Soon you find yourself not playing to beat your own top score, but to beat that of ‘mrcool666’ and take the number 1 place on your favourite song. When you do reach #1 Audiosurf then alerts you if anyone takes your crown, allowing you to get back in there and try again. Sadly all my #1 spots were taken months ago but it’s satisfying while you have them.

The graphics when it came out were pretty impressive too, with all sorts of trippy colours, flashing lights, and crazy patterns flying around, though you’re often too busy staring intently at the track to notice.

All in all this has been a fun game to play, with the added satisfaction of worldwide leader tables giving you that extra reason that keeps you playing slightly longer than you would.

Beat Hazard is a new game by developer Cold Beam Games and takes a new angle on the music influenced game genre. Instead of speeding up and increasing the difficulty as the music gets more intense, Beat Hazard increases your power along with the number of enemies, thus intensifying the action in time to the music. The idea of the game is similar to the classic arcade game (who’s name I can’t remember) where you fly around in 2D space destroying and avoiding anything that flies into your field of view. Getting used to this game is easy, and getting good at it doesn’t take much more than an hour of playing, I myself moved from normal difficulty to hardcore having completed 4 or 5 songs. One problem that I have come across with the gameplay however, is you have to choose your songs carefully. Whereas in Audiosurf, a slow section of a song corresponds to a slow uphill moment and brief respite, a slow section of a song in Beat Hazard reduces your weapon to a pea shooter and makes it almost impossible to take on some of the larger baddies, especially the bosses.

The boss weapons include 2 types of homing missile which, though easy enough to deal with during intense moments of music, are impossible to shoot down during quiet sections, and you find yourself attempting to run away from them while the boss continues to fire more. The other two boss weapons include indestructible bombs which follow a simple path, and a beam type thing which, if you misjudge your movements, will kill you instantly. I feel the latter of the two is slightly overpowered, as you have very little warning to get out of the way, especially when you’re in the midst of explosions and can’t see the pre-firing markings. However this does make the game more challenging, usually in a good way. The survival game mode offers an even more challenging experience, rather than building up the numbers of enemies throughout the song it pits you against a full armada straight away and has you survive for as long as possible, continuing onto the next song on the list when each one is finished. This can be infuriating to start with, but once you start hitting the 10 minute mark you realise ‘hey, i’m listening to my favourite album AND blowing stuff up in bright colours! What more could I want?’.

And this is one the main gameplay aspects of Beat Hazard which gives it a one up on Audiosurf, you can actually lose. Audiosurf has no failure mechanism, sure on the very hardest difficulty, if you fill up a column it tells you you may as well quit as you won’t get a high score, but you technically cannot fail. Whereas Beat Hazard gives you 2-3 lives and throws you in at the deep end, challenging you to survive through the song, and though it gives you a score whether you finish or not, it marks the song as incomplete and a percentage to tell you how far you got, just to remind you to keep playing. On top of this, your play feels like you are in control, even during the more intense moments, and you are able to keep up with the action. Whereas in Audiosurf you are in a constant state of ‘aaaahhh holy crap wtf!’. That made a difference.

The graphics are pretty spectacular. Though they are rather simple in design, with ‘hey lets make things flash and explode and be bright colours’ seeming to be the main theme. During intense moments you find yourself spinning around in a manic craze while the whole screen lights up in all sorts of flashing lights and colours.

Beat Hazard also has a ranking system, though it is based generally on mode rather than individual songs. And this can be slightly off-putting. I had a look at the longest survival time yesterday, and it is over 2 hours, compared to my measly 13 minutes. The same can be said for high scores. And there is no way of playing multiplayer either, meaning Audiosurf’s (limited) capacity for multiplayer gives it a one up on Beat Hazard once again.

So which is better? It’s hard to say. Looking at it now, I would have to say Beat Hazard, purely for the control you feel over where each game is going. Along with it’s improved graphics it is an extremely fun game to play, which is something that I can’t necessarily say about Audiosurf any more. Sure I played it  a huge amount when I got it, but that was a case of high score syndrome, playing simply to beat the score of one of my mates or some random person who had also played my favourite song. Beat Hazard has an advantage in that it has 2 years on Audiosurf, not only in terms of graphical improvements and all that crap, but in that I’ve only just started playing it and am yet to become bored by it.

Either way, Beat Hazard is currently £5 on steam so I would recommend you go and buy that and Audiosurf and see for yourself which is better.

I’ll add pictures to this post when I have time, I’ve been writing in breaks between revision sessions and dissertation missions. The dissertation is finished now though! Huzzah!

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