The moment you first let a rocket fly in Worms is unforgettable. The crisp graphics, the humorous explosions, the perfect physics and the satisfying destruction of your wormy enemies evokes gaming bliss. Such is the excellence of the Worms formula that many game companies have created their own version of the game on various platforms, with various themes (granted, Worms itself is a copy of the ancient “Tank” game). Galaxy X is the latest to walk that line, and there’s no doubt that the game takes the Worms formula forward while properly leveraging Facebook.
In short, Galaxy X has the gamer playing as a tank-rider in a futuristic multi-planetary war between Earth and Pluto. The Plutonians seem to be crushing the last of the human resistance on Earth, and as they make their advance, the gamer is responsible for playing as tank-riders from both sides of the conflict. As seen below, the story is not subtle to say the least, and as it progresses, the gamer is treated to short anime-style dialogues with animated facial expressions and vocal sound effects. It goes a long way towards giving the game a kind of console game feel.
Gameplay consists of equipping your tank with special weapons beforehand, and then moving into the action where players shoot down their foes before they get shot down themselves. Shooting is similar to using the ‘power gauge’ in golf games, where you hold the shoot button for a certain time to determine its power, and press the up and down keys to aim vertically. A small indicator at the bottom lets you know the approximate distance of the enemy. Shooting for most types of guns, including special guns, works this way.
Speaking of which, each tank has various special weapons, and similar to a game like StarCraft or Mario Kart 64, each tank has its own special weapons and statistics. Players get to know which tank to bring to the wars, and sometimes the battle is won before the first shot is fired. The special weapons are fun to use, as well. There are markers for satellite strikes, multi-shots and laser beams, and they all crush ships with a satisfying “crunch”.
The gameplay typically has players battling against series of ships in various different narrative-based scenarios. The game has an RPG feel to it, and seeing as the characters are interesting (although it takes a while before you’re going to see anything but one-dimension out of most of them), a player will definitely feel the urge to continue moving forward to either save/destroy Earth. The fact that you’re fighting multiple ships at once can feel pretty awesome, and it’s amplified even further when the game steps out of “turn-based” mode — where each player waits for the other to fire – and into dynamic mode, where players fire as fast as they can, with a few seconds delay between shots. It’s exciting and the scenarios set up by the game mean that you’ll have to evade as well as you fire, and recognize enemy firing patterns to dodge appropriately. This game requires intelligence and as a life-long gamer I was surprised to be defeated a few times even in level 3.
The presentation of the game, which includes the graphics, animation, sound and user interface is top notch. It’s reminiscent of a top-quality PC game that’d run you around $40 in stores. Every year, the quality of Flash games has improved, and with the surge of Facebook games that actually monetize, we’re seeing an unprecedented level of work go into making these games easy to navigate and pleasant to traverse. The music is of particular note, with carimba rhythms during menus and soaring rock during campaign missions, it’s not a problem when you leave the game running in the background (as I’m doing right now).
Within the game, the graphics and animation are stellar and reminiscent of top quality 2D console games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night or StarCraft, and the whole presentation feels solid.
The multiplayer elements of this game are exactly what players are going to hope for. It’s simple to navigate, easy to find a game, and excels at getting you into the action right away. There are only a few options, but they both make a big difference. The first is team play, which means it will be 2 on 2, and the second option is dynamic play, which we mentioned above. Dynamic play has virtually no lag and is a lot of fun. You just launch projectiles around as fast as you can, but it all feels controlled. I had a great time with the multiplayer, it makes a great 5 minute diversion from work. Shown below are the attractive lobbies that just beg you to click into a game.
Overall, the game is an excellent example of social games making the jump to the next generation of games. Graphics are improving, gameplay is getting deeper and more complex, and narrative is starting to enter the picture. Overall, Galaxy X is a hugely recommended title for Facebook.