Heavy Weapons


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PsychotronicHeavy WeaponsHeavy Weapons is a new arena shooter from Long Animals (Drift Runners) and Robot Jam (Panda: Tactical Sniper). It bills itself as "the ultimate Flash shooter", and assuming they aren't talking about some kind of camera designed specially to produce red-eye, then that must be a diss on other worthy contenders like Death Vs. Monstars or Zunderfury.

On what grounds does it claim the title? Basically, there's lots of stuff in it. There are 60 levels, packed with nearly as many species of cannon fodder, who drop valuable crystals when you heartlessly mow them down. And there are 21 weapons to spend those crystals on in the between-level shop. Presumably, those are the heavy weapons of the title, but very few of them give the impression of overwhelming destructiveness. I'm assuming that they are simply hard to pick up.

Move your ship with [WASD] and shoot with the mouse. Press [Space] to cycle through your weapons, or, if you don't mind the early onset arthritis that will result, use [Q] and [E] to switch weapons more precisely. You can also scroll the mouse wheel, but since that simultaneously scrolls my entire browser window, I do not so much enjoy that option.

Purchased weapons are added permanently to your arsenal, but you can only take three into battle at a time. This is the main strategy of Heavy Weapons: customizing your ship to take on the particular mix of abstract creatures and ships in each level. Though the first 10 levels or so will let you get away with any old splatter-caster, the next 50 will punish you if you make the wrong choices.

Each level requires you to destroy a certain quota of enemies, and then gives you 5 seconds at the end to gobble up money at double value. Warning: you can still die during this bonus period, which I've nicknamed the Ragequit Coda. Kind of a questionable design choice there.

Analysis: The best part of the game is the huge variety in your weapons. While you'll probably center on a couple of no-nonsense standbys (marry me, Arc Spread), it's great fun matching the quirks of the oddball ones to the challenges of the increasingly specific bad guys.

SplinerThe Spliner, for instance, sends out a blast of spiralling energy in a line and then runs out of juice quickly. It doesn't do a lot of damage, and it can't cope with a sustained flow of enemies. But nothing incinerates a swarm of lightly-armored ships faster, and if you switch to another weapon after setting off the Spliner, you can double your firepower for a second as it continues to pulse.

The game is set against an abstract neo-primitive backdrop of vectors, a topographical map that, with each level, suggests a new world without defining it. The enemies with the most personality are the ones based on other shooters. The aliens from Space Invaders. The neon shapes from Geometry Wars. The drones from Boxheads. Combined with the early-3D look of the other baddies, it all evokes a feeling of strange timelessness, as though the past 20 years of shooter history has been digested by a digital amoeba and fossilized.

The problems mostly come with Heavy Weapons' structure. Long Animals and Robot Jam are going for a very specific experience, sometimes at the expense of player comfort. You can't upgrade your ship's hull or speed. You can't upgrade your weapons. You can't sell the weapons you have to try others, and you can't even go back and farm cash on the earlier levels (you only get a level select after beating the entire game), so it's very possible to get stuck on a tough level with a weak selection of arms and no way to switch strategies. That's bad news in a game with 60 levels and only one save slot.

Worse, you have no idea if that new expensive weapon you're blowing hundreds of thousands of credits on is one of the standbys or one of the quirky experiments. All you get before the irrevocable purchase is a vague description. There should be a video of the weapon in action, or even better, a practice arena. It's hard to collect money in this game, especially when the enemies cluster right on top of the crystals from their dead fellows, and a preview of my purchases would be not only appreciated, but necessary.

Heavy Weapons is pointlessly hardcore, in other words, although the smooth controls and forgiving early levels might sucker you into thinking it's a easy-going casual shooter. This will be great for players who don't mind restarting a long game a couple of times, trying to optimize their upgrade path, but frustrating for everyone else.

I also have to award a special booby-prize to the loud, jarring, nonsensical sound effect that randomly assaults your ears when you die. The game had such a nice moody atmosphere going before it started screaming and gibbering at me.

Don't let me scare you off from trying it, though. Heavy Weapons is still one of the sharpest shooters I've seen in Flash, with a distinctive look, a kitchen sink approach to design, and a unique conglomeration of influences. Great? Yes. Ultimate? Eeeeeeeeeehhh… I don't know. Let's put it in the Worthy Contenders folder.

Play Heavy Weapons

16 Comments

SteelPenguin May 26, 2009 2:34 PM

Not bad. Better than I expected, but I have no idea with the weapons as the reviewer said. I grabbed the arc blast right away which got me through 10 levels, then i had enough $ to buy something off the second row. Went with the second level homing missiles, which caused me grief at times, kept switching back to the arc blast. Worth playing. Could use the ability to replay levels and experiment with weapons.

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deflective Author Profile Page May 26, 2009 9:44 PM

in a game centered around weapon switching i really want a way to switch weapons without without taking my hands off of the movement or firing. in this case, spacebar would have worked.

[Happily, spacebar does cycle through your weapons! -Psychotronic]

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the heat May 26, 2009 11:31 PM

What are the death criteria? There doesn't seem to be a life counter. There's a white bar, but it doesn't seem to change size. I ran into an enemy, flashed a bit, ran into a few more, then ran into a whole bunch, trying to figure out how much damage I was taking. Abruptly, game over. huh?

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The balancing in this game seriously needs to be reworked as the only weapons necessary are the arc blaster and the reflector I saved my moolah and got to level 17 at which point I spent 200k on a big laser and it was weaker than my 4k and 5.5k weapons.

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SteelPenguin May 27, 2009 5:53 AM

Thanks for the spacebar tip. Played a little more, and I found lightning to be my best weapon. Switching between it and arc blast w/spacebar got me a long way in the game. So for those having trouble pick up lightning.

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the weapons definitely need to be rethought. aside from the arc blaster, giant ball thing, and lightning, i felt like i just got ripped off every time i spent money on a new weapon. or at least you should be able to sell them back.

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Notmilk May 27, 2009 12:17 PM

@the heat
it can be really hard to see, but you actually have a little blue bar above your head, much like the enemy's red bar above their heads.

took me a while to figure this one out too. the white bar at the bottom is just showing which weapon you are currently using.

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Interesting concept, unplayably bad controls, and every weapon but the 3-way shot is useless. 2/5

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Alright, so I don't remember the names of the weapons but I got to lvl 22ish and had most of the weapons in the game.

The trick is to start with the weapon that shoots the circles that spin around you. That weapon will carry you through most of the game. It's one of the first weapons available (the 4k one I think) It allows you to just hold down the fire button and focus on staying alive.

After that the trick to making alot of money is to save up for the bomb or the three beam (railgun?) About the time you get the cash for those you hit a few levels with very slow moving mobs. Just circle around the screen and until you have a mass of them then let loose with the bomb or the 3-beam. Move in and collect the cash afterwords. Expect to bank at the end of the level when the cash doubles. ^_^

Eventually you'll get the tornado to help bunch things up and the duck of doom to help clear the screen of some of the faster and more annoying mobs.

I eventually got bored with the uselessness of most of the weapons. Some of them are nifty but have too long of a recharge time. You lack a good weapon to effectively kill bases with, which becomes really annoying when you get to the levels that consist of only bases.

While I will agree you can get stuck with a really useless weapon set, I don't think the game is all that difficult. But having to restart because you can't beat a level with your loadout sucks. This can be done by simply allowing for a level select, the option of selling your weapons for full value, or keeping the cash you make when you die.

All in all I enjoyed it, just got bored before even making it half way through the game. Worth playing for a while.

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SteelPenguin May 28, 2009 6:51 AM

Thought I'd come back and make a last comment. Since I finally finished the game. Turns out weapon coordination is really the key thing (at least for me). The previous commenter used the vortex to bunch and then bomb, I could never get that thing to work. I actually owned almost all of the weapons by the end. I ended up going with three I could rotate through quickly that timed so that when one expired I could hit the next one. I liked lightning followed by the 3 homing missiles followed by the razor short range thingy. It really is about the right weapons combos for a certain level. I got stuck on one of the 50s and had enough to buy some weapons, bought one that didnt work out at all but had enough left over that I chanced it on another that made the level easy.

All in all I'd like to see more games like this but with some better upgrades and maybe a bigger area map. Definitely better weapons instructions

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camexias May 28, 2009 8:44 AM

this game is fantastic. For me, the best weapn in game is lightening.

The 2 last weapons sucks. Slow and Bomb sucks to and Vortex and BFG together is really good.

sorry for my english

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Noctis Skytower Author Profile Page May 28, 2009 11:34 AM

This game is significantly easier if you go to the save file on your computer, open it up with a hex editor, and give yourself all of the weapons to choose from. If anyone needs help, it is not that difficult to work through.

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A pretty good game overall. When I returned to play again, though, I clicked on "play" and a saved game was automatically detected. That's great, but, when I clicked on "continue," I had to continue clicking through the entire intro sequence full of story line and instructions. Note to developers: If a player is continuing a game, it's reasonable to assume they know the controls and storyline. If you feel it's necessary to offer it again, at least provide a way to skip it.

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Nice game. Trying to find the right weapon(s) for each level is quite the fun.

Just one problem: I'd like to change controls because I don't use a standard keyboard, so it's all mixed up.

Now I'm stuck at level 36, using Slow Time to avoid fire balls, but still I lose my life too quickly and the boss is very resistant. Any hint?

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I liked this game! I had a good time playing it.

I had a really hard time with the last level! The funny thing is.. after I died a homing missile hit him, destroying him, and I came back from the dead o_O

After I beat the last level I was expecting a little more :P

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I have a weapon combo that can carry you through to the 40s/50s (depending on your skill) They are: homers, energy homers and lightning. I cannot stress the importance of getting lightning as early as possible; it's the best weapon in the game. Tactics: Hold down the mouse button for the energy homers and the homers (they give you a huge combined DPS) and use lightning as a basic rifle to do your grunt work. If you have 20 or less enemies left, then just hold down the mouse button and cycle through your weapons.

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