It’s a statement that’s rapidly approaching cliché territory, but Housemarque’s cylindrical shooter Resogun is still the PlayStation 4’s best game. That’s not a slight against the software library that Sony’s next-gen system has amassed over the past six months or so – although we’re sure that many would like to take it that way – but more a testament to just how good the arcade launch title is. For as exceptional as the core gameplay remains, though, there are only so many times that you can save the last humans – and that’s where the title’s first major expansion pack Heroes comes in.
To begin, we’d be remiss if we were to overlook the fact that this add-on comes hand-in-hand with a free update, which everyone can access right now. Incorporating an oft-requested local co-op mode, the complimentary content’s headline addition is the vaunted vessel editor, allowing you to arrange your own vibrant voxels in order to create a Ferox or Phobos of your very own. These custom creations can then be shared online a la ModNation Racers, and the results are already impressive; from Flappy Bird to Stephen Hawkings, there’s a pixelated ship to suit all tastes.
We actually found ourselves plumping up for the former during our time with the title’s debut downloadable content, but aficionados of other formats may feel more at home with one of the many plagiarised options on offer. So what are these new modes, then? Well, the Heroes pack adds two new entries to the single player portion of the release’s main menu: Survival and Demolition. Straightforward in name only, these actually offer sizeable twists on the twin-stick shooter’s established format – and give the core campaign a run for its hard-earned cash.
Survival is arguably the meatier of the two, limiting you – as you’d probably anticipate – to a single life. The twist here is that the gameplay has been completely stripped back to its very basics, with the captive humans and collectors loop removed entirely. Instead, emerald inmates will parachute down from the top of the screen with much more regularity, and you’ll need to collect them in order to unlock various power-ups, be they all-important shields, weapon upgrades, or more. As you progress, bridges will fall and the number of enemies will increase, making it harder to hang on.
Unlike the main campaign, there’s no danger of losing your multiplier should fail to strike a target – not that the screen will ever be empty enough for you to miss. This simplification of the mechanics makes the mode incredibly addictive in short bursts, but when you do manage to exceed expectations and nail a lengthy run, the increasing tension accentuates everything that’s great about score-based arcade games. Speaking of which, despite a disappointing leaderboard reset, the developer definitely deserves kudos for presenting this information in a more upfront manner.
But while setting a top score in Survival is seriously entertaining, we found ourselves coming back to the distinctly different Demolition with even more frequency. This is perhaps best compared to Super Stardust HD’s tricky Bomber mode, which favoured patience and manoeuvrability ahead of raw sharp shooting skills. Armed with the ability to send out rechargeable cosmic blasts, your aim here is to bounce balls around the cylindrical stage in order to clear it of encroaching enemies. You can’t fire, so you’ll spend much of your time evading rather than attacking.
Despite starting out slower than the other options, this really gets going once you get to grips with it. You’ll nab additional balls as well as pulse recharges by smashing certain canisters, while some enemies are able to bounce your supercharged spheres back at you, resulting in some really quite hectic action at times. Avoiding scorching comets and approaching adversaries while you wait for your pulse to power up is a real blast, and it also takes advantage of the title’s circular scenes in a manner more meaningful than any of the other modes on offer.
Resogun’s still sensational at its core, and the Heroes expansion serves as a resplendent reminder of that. Survival strips the release’s formula back to its very basics, prompting a punchier take on the title’s score-based gameplay. Demolition, on the other hand, is a more considered addition, which fuses the best of pinball with Angry Birds and wraps it in a glistening intergalactic shell. Regardless of which you prefer, both options come highly recommended – and considering that you can play the entire affair as Buzz Lightyear these days, there’s never been a better time to rekindle your addiction to PS4’s best game.