Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Review - Audio-Surf

A tiny little game with a small 10 dollar price tag, which has had some big buzz in the back alleys of the net, and now I'll break it down for you.

Gameplay -
Audio-Surf is a rhythm game, sort of a distant cousin to Guitar Hero or Amplitude. The basic idea of the game is that it takes your music collection and turns it into levels for playing. The song takes the form of a sort of multilane highway which dips and bobs and weaves according to the music, and your little character flies down this highway picking up colored blocks which then stack in columns on a "board" according to what lane in which they were picked up. When 3 or more blocks of the same color in your board touch, they will clear away and give you points. So not only do you have to keep your eyes on the road, you also have to watch your board of previously collected blocks, trying to catch blocks to match in the appropriate lane.

The game has over a dozen modes of play, which are triggered by choosing a "character" from the game menu. For instance, the "Pointman" character lets you scoop up blocks and drop them in different lanes, a-la Klax, the "Mono" character invokes a mode of play where there are only two kinds of blocks (colored and gray), and grey block clog up your board by refusing to match and clear even with themselves. There's also two-player cooperative characters (though both players must be on the same PC, one uses mouse and the other keyboard).

The game really has an addictive hook to it, especially since it is using music you already love (unless for some reason you keep MP3s of songs you hate, and even then specifically choose to play them). It even comes with a collection of songs from the Orange Box soundtrack, including the omnipresent "Still Alive" by Jonathan Coulton (two versions, actually.. the one in the game sung by GLaDOS and a version sung by Coulton himself).

The game also tracks high scores of the songs played (it uses the ID3 tag data inside the songs to keep track of them), and lets you compare how you're doing vs everybody, or just people in your general geographic vicinity, or specific friends you add to your friends list.

Graphics -
While certainly not groundbreaking for realism or detail, the graphics in Audio-Surf are just what they need to be - sleek, shiny, and high framerate. Even most laptops these days would not be overexerting themselves playing Audio-Surf, and yes, I did test it with my own laptop using its on-board Intel video. They did a good job and did it efficiently, and even threw in a little eye candy to distract you while you play as well.

Audio -
The audio of the game largely depends upon your own music stash, since the hook of the game is that it uses your own music files to make levels. Songs with good, firm beats tend to make good levels, if slightly bumpy. Slow, quiet songs make for easy, gentle levels while thrash metal, as seen above, makes for a wild and crazy ride. It's pretty well implemented.

The Final Word -
Audio-Surf is definitely going to be one of those games that takes its place in the "names among names" for computer games. It's a little bit of a cult hit right now, but word will spread. I can't say it'll ever get as big as guitar hero, but it's certainly less expensive. Ten bucks sure beats having to spend money on squeaky fisher price instruments, eh?

Verdict - A

And that's the word from Bandit Camp.


Anonymous said...

The music in the video is absolutely terrible.

buy viagra said...

It is a fun game, not the best I had played but it is indeed very fun to play.