-Wanako Studios / Sierra (2006)
You two were part of an elite Special Forces unit. When the robots attacked, your team wasnít elite enough. The both of you are the only survivors. It is up to you to find the underground base of the vile robots and show them that man still has some elite-ness left in him.
Assault Heroes could best be described as Jackal with some Total Carnage. For most of the game you drive an all terrain dune buggy type of vehicle with a huge gun, but you also get out and fight on foot as a small soldier. Assault Heroes seamlessly blends both the vehicular and solider gameplay into an exciting shooter.
You drive an all-terrain vehicle called the PLA MK1 4x4. Itís well equipped with a big-ass gun on the roof. There are three weapons that can be switched between at any time. The mini-gun is fast firing and looks cool when fully powered up. The flak-cannon is more powerful, but can only be fired once every couple of seconds. The flame-thrower is a nice close range weapon. The 4x4 is also equipped with grenades and nukes for tougher situations, of which there are plenty.
Enemies come at you big and small. There are countless enemy soldiers running around ready to be easily shot or run over. There are tanks, jets, helicopters, battleships, and lots of little spider bots. The stages have multiple boss encounters and have some nice variety to them with a huge spider robot, a wall made of big robotic legs, a crawling super robot tank, a giant crab submarine, a heavily armed battle train, and a central computer core robot.
With all the enemy firepower aimed directly at you, a one hit and youíre dead system would seem cheap. Fortunately your assault 4x4 has a shield / life meter that can take multiple hits and will automatically recharge if you donít get hit for awhile. Should the 4x4 be destroyed the game gives you one last chance. You are left controlling the driver of the vehicle equipped with a small machine gun. If your man can survive long enough a new vehicle will show up with all of your previously acquired power-ups. Although dangerous in the middle of an intense firefight, stepping out of the vehicle does have its rewards. Some weapon power-ups are only accessible by the smaller size of the soldier. Each stage also has a secret underground base that only the playersí soldiers can enter.
The terrain the 4x4s assault over range from sandy beaches, a decimated city, a few bases, and driving up a steep and deadly mountain. Each of the five stages is pretty lengthy for a shooter like this. Of the five stages, one of them is actually on water. In the water stage the vehicle becomes an armored speed boat, similar to Spy Hunter. The controls are the same as the 4x4s, but are a tad more difficult to control due to the water conditions. Also, when the tiny soldier steps out of the speed boat he is riding a small assault jet ski.
The pace of the game is fairly slow at first. The screen has forced upward scrolling, but at a very slow pace. By remaining below the invisible scroll line, the player can somewhat dictate when the screen will actually scroll. There are hundreds of enemies so this leisurely approach is actually better than trying to barrel through. Youíll have plenty of fighting to do in every single part of the stages. Since taking out every enemy is a high priority in the game, the slow pace isnít a big deal until the final stage when the screen just canít seem to scroll fast enough.
The graphics have excellent detail and are very colorful. Assault Heroes makes a nice showpiece for an XBLA 2D shooter. Some enemies, and enemy bullets, are very small, but you are usually able to see everything pretty clearly on an HD television. The sounds of weapons fire, trees being destroyed, explosions, and kamikaze Indians sound great, although a few effects seemed much louder than others. The music, while good, tends to get lost in all the commotion of gunfire and destruction.
Assault Heroes has a Co-op mode that can be played on one 360 or over Live, and this game is really best played with two people. You and your friend can devise little strategies to take down certain groups of enemies or bosses a little easier. Sometimes it turns into every man for himself, but itís a great option that adds to the arcadey feel. Plus as an added incentive to play with a friend, you can launch special attacks only available in co-op mode. Each regular weapon can be combined into a new one. The mini-gun turns into a heat seeking nail gun, the flak cannon becomes a limited range shockwave, and the flame throwers form a firewall.
There are plenty of achievements that will keep players busy after completing the game. Assault Heroes is a great game that combines the feel of an old arcade shooter with excellent visuals and sounds, and is well worth the 800 MS points.