Review – A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda
The Scoop: It’s the late 21st century and it’s up to you to stop an alien force from wiping out the human race in the first action game by Extend Studio.
The Setup: The discovery of a harmful and corruptible gas called Zytron has lazy humans concerned as this gas only affects their robot helpers. But after years with dealing with the gas, they have finally made the first robot immune to Zytron. This robot is you: Ares. (Not to be confused with A.R.E.S.) Since you’re the only robot in the galaxy immune to the gas’s effects, it’s your job to rescue the last human survivors onboard a Zytron-engulfed space station, filled with Zytron-corrupted robots ready to take you down. Go in, rescue the humans, blow up the robots, save the day. It’s a simple, to the point plot that doesn’t really need more developing than that.
Designed to be an episodic game series, A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda has some Mega Man influence in both its design and game play. Players will progress through five levels, blasting enemies and defeating bosses, all while gathering new weapons and looking like a Mega Man X maverick hunter. Players start off with just a pistol, but later through the game they will acquire new powers, weapons, and even projectiles like grenades. However, every enemy you defeat will drop one of three different upgrade parts. Collecting these parts will allow you to roll them into health packs, more grenades, or even upgrade your current weapons or grenades to deal higher damage.
What’s Hot: Being an action side-scroller, A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda allows for both keyboard and mouse or a controller input. Each has their own strengths: With a keyboard and mouse, you’ll have a targeting reticule that you can hover over enemies before actually firing, offering more accurate attacks. However, that leaves you a bit clumsy when using your keyboard to jump over objects and shoot at the same time. At the same time, using a controller makes the side-scrolling aspects of the game feel more fluid, yet can leave your attacks less than accurate. It’s all up to the player to decide how they want to play, keyboard or controller. I originally started playing with a keyboard, but in the end went back to playing with a controller.
A.R.E.S. also has some impressive boss fights from a snake that tries to knock you down into a bottomless pit, to a tank that almost takes up half the screen. And each one has its own unique attacks. For example, one of the bosses has turrets throughout his entire lair. Once you take out the turrets, a giant robot will come crashing down, firing lasers and smashing you with its giant arms, forcing you to stay focused on dodging the attacks rather than standing in a corner and just shooting at it. The final boss is also impressive with multiple attacks leaving you praying that you have enough health packs to last you throughout the fight.
What’s Not: A.R.E.S. is unfortunately short. With only five levels and not much replay value, you can easily breeze through the game in five hours, provided you don’t stop and grind for upgrades parts. That’s where the game falls apart. Although the boss fights and level designs are impressive, grinding for upgrade parts can get rather like a routine. And once you have the weapons fully upgraded, even the bosses don’t seem to be much of a challenge. They don’t level up along with your character, so the more upgrades you have the faster you can plow through the boss levels.
The game also has its fair share of glitches, but they are few and far in between. One major glitch that happened to me was that one of the levels didn’t actually render. The background and the objects, like myself and enemies, appeared, but the various platforms just weren’t there. At first I thought it was an artistic design forcing players to figure out if where they’re going to land is safe or happens to be an abyss of agony. But it wasn’t until I went through my second play-through of the game that I realized it was just a glitch. Had it actually been an artistic design, it would have been a cheap move, just like the Instant Laser Walls of Death from Mega Man. But since it’s a glitch? Not cool. Not cool at all.
Final Verdict: A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda is a fun Mega Man-clone. The art is well-polished and keeps the old side-scroll feel as you blast through your enemies. The game can feel very short and once you’ve maxed out your upgrades even the game on hard can seem like a breeze. But in the end, between the action combat and the boss fights, A.R.E.S. is a fun, mindless side-scroller. Not bad for the company’s first title.Review - A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda,