by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
Back to Basics
Whatever happened to just shooting a bunch of helicopters and flying robots? Times have moved on from arcade style shoot-em-ups, onto complex game mechanics and deep storylines. But Armed Seven is saying no to all that, and is looking to recapture some of that old style of game. You control a futuristic mech, and you use it to fly around and shoot other mechs and other machinery. Back to basics.
As you would expect, Armed Seven is a little light on the story front. All you have got to know is that you are good, and that everything else you see is bad. Especially those giant robots that fire missiles and lasers at you. You’re not here for the story, you’re here for the action, and for the most part, it’s pretty good.
Get ready to restart
Again, there’s not much to it in terms of gameplay. You want to not get shot, and you want to shoot everything else. Get shot too much and you will explode, and go back to the beginning. Not of the level either, the entire game. Rogue-likes eat your heart out. You can take three shots and that’s it. You can fire at certain types of ship and they will drop upgrades to your shot power, and also give you some bonus shields to help you out. However, you only get a maximum of two charges. It pays to be cautious, as you will get a bonus for having shields remaining at the end of the level.
And that’s really what it is all about, the score. If you are good enough, you will finish the entire game in around twenty minutes. However if you are into this sort of game, it will be that elusive high score that will keep you coming back. There are also a variety of different weapons to choose from before you start a run. Your mech is fitted with three weapon slots. A primary, a secondary and a special weapon. The primary and secondary are fired in tandem, and you can pretty much hold down the shoot button for the entirety of a level, only stopping to aim every now and then.
Aiming is a little finicky because it is tied to the movement. If you stop firing and move upwards, your gun will also point upwards. However if you move upwards while firing, it will keep going straight. There were a few situations where I would become frustrated by having to realign my gun properly, but it was never too bad, especially with the weapons that spread fire around the screen. You will quickly find a combination of weapons that work for you. I tended to go with the riot gun, the rocket launcher and the beam cannon. This gave me a wide range of fire to take out incoming missiles, some stopping power straight ahead of me, and then a huge burst of damage to use on bosses.
Each of the special weapons has a cooldown period. With the more powerful ones, you will be waiting for it to charge up for a good portion of the level after you have used it. Each of the standard weapons has their own strengths and weaknesses, and it’s a shame that you can’t change your loadout between levels. If you want to test out a certain build on a certain level, you can use the Stage Select option, which will also allow you to change your weapon power and shield level before playing. However the main challenge of the game is to get through all of the stages in a row without dying.
Thankfully, for someone like me who isn’t particularly good at these types of games, there are different difficulty settings to choose from. I could get through a few stages of Normal before it became too difficult, when I bumped it down to Easy. I could have used a difficulty level in between those two as I breezed through Easy first time. However for the more experienced/ skilled player, there are Hard and Insane modes to really put you to the test.
As for the style, Armed Seven is again going for that retro feel. The level and enemy design is pretty good, if a little unforgettable. The enemy spawn and movement patterns are usually pretty predictable, and it’s not too hard to dodge incoming projectiles for the most part. The game stands up on the shoulders of its huge bosses which take up half of one side of the screen. These are generally exciting encounters which throw lots at you, and it’s a shame that there weren’t a few more in there, especially when you see repeated enemies level to level.
Overall Armed Seven is a competent shooter and a good attempt at recapturing some of that old shoot-em-up magic. It’s not revolutionary in terms of gameplay, story, or graphics, but it’s not trying to be. This is the kind of game that you have to know you’re going to enjoy before buying, but I’m sure there are plenty of people out there searching for a new game of this type. Just know going in that this is a pretty standard game, and there’s not a lot for you here unless you’re a high score hunting kind of player.
A good attempt at recapturing an older style of game.
Controls are a little clumsy, nothing new here for a modern audience.