Tech News on G4
Despite a unique premise, Aaero's aim is slightly off
June 19, 2017
By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada
It doesn't get much more unique than the rhythm-shooter game Aaero, thanks in no small part to a melding of intriguing pieces, from an interesting gameplay hook, to a killer soundtrack and some cool boss battles. The final product is worse than the sum of its parts though, and the game never truly hits its stride.
At first glance, Aaero looks like your typical third-person space shooter. That couldn't be further from the truth, though. Instead of just holding down right trigger and using an endless stream of bullets to mow down countless enemies, you finish levels in Aaero by riding tracks, known as ribbons, and using the art of locking on to take down a small number of smart enemies.
The game employs the use of just two analog sticks and one button. It's dead simple, although mastering how it works is a whole story altogether. Aaero is frenetic, unforgiving, and it relies a little too heavily on trial-and-error, which is unfortunate.
First, the good: when Aaero focuses on following the ribbons, it's completely thrilling. The bass-heavy dubstep tracks thump away, with full instrumentation playing only when you're successfully following the ribbons by using the right analog stick. It's rarely easy following along perfectly, but with practice, and by truly listening to the music and watching patterns, it's possible to get close to 100 percent accuracy. The game switches things up by having the player dodge environmental hazards as well, so over the course of the short game, things don't become boring.
The shooting, sadly, doesn't work nearly as well. It's a simple enough idea: you can lock on to up to eight targets using the left analog stick, and press the right trigger to shoot. Some enemies require multiple shots, some lock on to you, and others move across the screen, doing their best to avoid your projectiles.
Whether it was a lack of a more thorough tutorial, the inability to invert aiming (for a game in 2017, this is nigh-unforgivable), or the unfair way enemies in later stages act, the shooting managed to bring down the entire Aaero experience.
At the beginning of each level, your ship is given three shields (hit points, essentially). Once these are gone, you die and are taken back to the beginning of the level - no checkpoints to be found whatsoever. The levels may be brief if you don't die, but restarting over, and over, and over again becomes a lesson in frustration, especially when it's just one brief section that's giving you trouble.
I also found it maddening that after getting hit and taking a moment to "respawn," enemies are still able to lock on to your ship and kamikaze into you, while you're unable to continue locking on to them. It's difficult enough taking down enemies in later levels; having to deal with this shoddy and unbalanced respawning system takes things to controller-throwing levels. There is a "chillout" mode where you get infinite lives, but even trying this out, it couldn't fix this problem.
For those players who are able to power through these sections, Aaero should provide some decent replayability as long as you're a fan of chasing high-scores and leaderboard domination. There are two additonal difficulty levels above normal, so if you like a challenge, Aaero delivers. The strategy is deceptively deep, too. For instance, enemies always blow up to the beat of the music, but shooting your weapon at the right time, accurate to the music itself, can net you a better score.
Aaero offers a unique experience, and while there is a lot to like here, I'm not convinced it's capable of hitting the high notes.
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