Preview: Galaxy X Sparks the Plutonian Invasion on Facebook

We just got the opportunity to take an early look at a new title for Facebook called Galaxy X from StudioEX USA, currently in private beta. Galaxy X joins slowly growing list of games inspired by the classic PC title, Worms; this list already includes Playfish’s Crazy Planets and Playdom’s Wild Ones.

In closed beta, Galaxy X pits players against each other in a competitive battle for supremacy. Using Worms-like mechanics, you blast opponents until only one of you is left standing. Galaxy X is amusing and well done, but falls short of the genre classic, Worms. We also found that a few features got in the way of game play.

You start out in single player mode, taking control of invading Plutonian forces attempting to flush out the last bastion of human defenses. Game play is simple. With quirky, tongue-in-cheek dialogue leading the way, you use basic physics systems to lob artillery at enemy units. The arrow keys move your character and adjust the trajectory of each shot. Holding down the spacebar will charge a power gauge, which will then determine the velocity of ballistic attacks.

The basic attack will inflict casualty within the vicinity of its blast radius, with more damage towards the center. Additionally, your unit type (there are six total) comes with a secondary weapon such as a satellite cannon, a mortar barrage, and so on. These seem to do more damage than the primary weapon, and it’s surprising that their usage is not finite (at least not in the initial single play missions). But some weapons do have special way of operating. For example, the satellite cannon requires the missile to hit directly above or below an enemy target.

None of these mechanics really are new. There is, however, a feature called “dynamic battles” in which you can shoot and move at the same time. In missions containing multiple enemies and even the occasional boss fight, it completely changes the game, allowing you to dodge attacks but also making it harder to aim. This takes a little getting used to, in part because it is possible to shoot yourself.

As you play the different missions or the multiplayer mode (more on that in a bit), you gain experience and coins. This works more or less as it does in Wild Ones, in that you can purchase special weapons and equipment to enhance your character. Weapons are fairly self-explanatory, but consist of items that are either basic — multiple shots, damage boosts, homing, etc. — or more creative, like draining health, teleporting, or cloaking. Equipment, on the other hand, enhances your tank, slightly improving stats such as damage and health.

You can purchase a wide variety of items but can only equip so many at a time, forcing you to choose what type of equipment and arsenal to use in battle. Because there is such a wide array of items and most are gated by level, there are many different types of play.

The one way to equip a few extra items also acts as one of the game’s non-competitive social features. If you have a certain number of friends playing, they will be able to unlock up to two extra item slots for their weaponry, giving them an extra advantage in battle.

This is the only friendly social mechanic in Galaxy X. The core of the game is competition through both leaderboards and player versus player battles. With both team and free-for-all play, Galaxy X can be a lot of  fun.

Our complaint about Galaxy X is that it’s very similar to Worms, and thus also Crazy Planet and Wild Ones, complete with wind, time limits, sudden death, and destructible environments. The most noticeable original addition (beyond the theme) is new weapon types, which do add a lot to the game.