Side scrolling, twitch-based space shooters are a staple of gaming, and have been for years. As such, finding something unique can be a struggle. But despite this, developer Boss Baddie has been quietly expanding on the genre with its Big Sky titles on PC. And now the latest iteration Big Sky Infinity has hit the PlayStation 3 and Vita in all of its action packed glory.
Big Sky Infinity makes for a pleasantly refreshing experience. It’s still all about copious enemies and firepower heading your way, but the intensely bright colours create a far more interesting aesthetic. Additionally, the game doesn't hinge on pattern memorisation. Instead, randomly generated levels make each session a new experience, leaving you to rely on your reaction skills. Elsewhere, a brilliantly intuitive upgrade system helps to keep you hooked into the action.
You begin with a weak ship that's destined to be destroyed early on. However, as you accumulate Starbits from thwarting foes, you'll be able to upgrade the many attributes of your craft, from its shields to its firing rate. Before long you'll have constructed a mean piece of machinery, and you'll be able to progress much further than you could at first.
Sadly, the random nature of the levels isn't always an advantage. The tactics you learn from engaging a certain kind of foe on one run may not come in handy until several rounds later, and the leaderboards – which do an excellent job of encouraging competition amongst your friends – are undermined by this dice roll nature. In truth, it's all a touch unfair.
But at least the action is intense. Levels start off manageable but soon become overwhelming, with blinding projectiles and laser beams filling the screen. It's not all about dealing with other spaceships either, as planets also get in the way. You'll need to safely switch to your drill bit to commandeer these hazards, adding some adrenaline to proceedings. The bold use of colour and the pace of the action can make it difficult to keep track of what's going on at times, but the visuals are so beautiful that you won't really mind.
While the design starts simple, the game evolves into an unexpectedly complex experience due to its extra modes. Added options include nightmarishly difficult stages, timed exploits, boss rushes, and more. Furthermore, multiplayer is available and different depending on the device you're using. On the PS Vita you can enjoy a bout of asynchronous Horse, where two players compete for score across multiple rounds. Meanwhile, the PS3 features a four-player option.
Fans of fast-paced shooters are certain to find Big Sky Infinity a welcome addition to their collection. The addictive high-score loop and intuitive upgrade system will keep you coming back for more, and the random level generator ensures that each visit offers a brand new experience.