Reviewed: December 6, 2011
Released: December 5, 2011
Xbox Live Arcade is quickly becoming the home to a whole new genre of indie games; games that feature a lot more ingenuity and creativity than your typical budget-conscious major studio is willing to risk on a non-sequel or non-franchise title. Take for instance, Xotic, a new psychedelic FPS from WXP Games; the guys who bring us those awesome tournament paintball games every year. Surely if anyone can put a clever spin on that oversaturated genre itís them.|
Xotic kicks off with a completely unnecessary story told through the synthesized computer/robot voice of the narrator who sets up why you are in this world and why you are about to be shooting thingsÖa LOT of things. Tossing in words like Macroterra, Scabs, and Hard Holograms certainly gives the game a definitive sci-fi flavor, but the graphics are what really sell this truly exotic experience.
From the moment this game starts to the moment it ends you will be transported to a series of alien worlds and environments so rich in vibrant, pulsating colors youíll think they put a black light on one of their paintball splattered arenas. The screenshots hardly do the game justice, as they only capture a fraction of these living, breathing, alien vistas that can range from sinister dark caves to alien ruins, or exotic outdoor locales.
The levels themselves are designed around Xoticís unique style of gameplay that blends shooting with jumping, item collection, and even a bit of RPG goodness with a robust system for weapons and personal upgrades using valuable XP you will earn based on your peformance in each level. The whole thing is presented in classic arcade style with specific goals like completion time, thoroughness, combos, collections, etc. and then you are scored and ranked on leaderboards.
There is no traditional online multiplayer, but you still have plenty of things to shoot. Scattered about the levels are Scabs, these red blobs that explode when shot and thank to their linear placement, will often trigger satisfying chain events that are tracked as part of your score. There are other things to shoot like urns, some with brains inside (donít ask), and other pick-ups and power-ups like health restoration, and point multipliers. And of course, you can expect to find all sorts of creepy alien creatures to unleash any of the several upgradable features of your multi-function Macroterra weapon.
Xotic is pure arcade in that is forces you to be as fast as possible to earn time bonuses while also being as thorough as possible so you find all the secrets and shoot every single red Scab. Obviously, this is going to take a lot of attempts in order to learn the levels and all the secrets, but that is the nature of a true arcade game where your only competition is yourself and the leaderboards.
Jumping puzzles require you to use Hard Holograms to generate a transparent platform under your feet. These are powered by batteries youíll find scattered about the game, and the more power you have the more platforms you can create. You can also use this technology to form shields useful in intense combat situations. And even after the exit portal appears you are free to remain in the levels and do as much clean-up as you want, at the risk of losing any timer bonuses of course.
My biggest concern with the Xbox 360 version of Xotic is that the aiming controls are very sloppy; which is a disaster for a game that ranks you on shot accuracy and speed. I found it nearly impossible to aim with any consistent accuracy and instead, kept my crosshairs in the center and aimed by walking, squeezing the trigger when they happen to pass over a target. Sooner or later you will have to aim up or down and you will almost always aim past your target then aim past it the other way when trying to compensate then making minute corrections with the left movement stick. Itís just a very sloppy control scheme that pretty much ruined the experience on the console; a shame considering how good those paintball games are.
There are other control issues like an awkward cover-fire system that has you locking into cover then peeking out in various directions using the face buttons. And while I eventually got used to tapping LB to jump, the floaty gravity made me almost always miss my target, and those holographic jump pads donít last forever.
Xotic offers up a fairly mediocre FPS offering for the 800ms points youíll be dropping on it. It looks amazing and there are some cool original sounds and interesting music, and I really dig the whole competitive arcade flavor, but the controls killed it for me. At best, this is an okay game for people whose Internet connection may be good enough to download a game but not fast enough to actually play one online.