Developers taking chances is something that we’ll always respect. Sometimes, things work out and these games inspire a whole new set of clones. When games fail to perfectly execute a new concept, lessons are learned that the whole development community can benefit from. In the case of 2360: Battle for Cydonia, it’s a full-on assault to break new ground. In it, you’ll find a mix of the mechanics and gameplay structures from shooters, role-playing adventures, and real-time strategy. Does it all mesh together successfully or does it end up being an unnecessarily complex disappointment?
Assuming the role of a large mech, you fight for the future of a war-torn Mars that is largely centered around a mega-weapon called Datalus-5. This space drama is played out over the course of the game’s 21 levels. Displayed before the start of each level, the plot’s presentation is fairly typical stuff.
Firefight on the grid.
What’s not so typical in this shooter are the control mechanics. Using a top down perspective, controlling your Mech isn’t executed using a traditional virtual dual joystick model. Taking cues from Flight Control, moving your Mech is done by drawing the direction you’d like to go.
Though it didn’t strike us as a better mechanic than the virtual analog stick, it’s serviceable. Shooting enemies is done by tapping directly on them. You’re capable of firing in two directions simultaneously, and seeing your Mech contort and rotate on the fly looks cool. Unfortunately, a few key game design decisions bring out the worst in these new shooter mechanics.
While we get that huge war machines like Mechs are typically slow and plodding, moving around in 2360: Battle of Cydonia is slow and extremely frustrating. We immediately missed the precision of having a joystick, and drawing paths for moving is an inexact science due to the shooting mechanics. Sometimes you’ll try to draw a path, but if you inadvertently tap an enemy while beginning your gesture, the wrong action gets registered. On top of that, the enemies come at you so fast that maneuvering and taking down swarms of them effectively is very tough, even on the lowest difficulty setting.
He is none other than’¦ the Shock Master!
Should you tame the inefficient control scheme in 2360: Battle for Cydonia, there’s some good stuff in there to keep you busy. You can upgrade your Mech’s armor and weaponry using the cash you acquire, and new enemy types show up to help keep things fresh. Mission variety is fairly solid and the level layouts get more intricate as you go along.
2360: Battle for Cydonia has solid presentation throughout. During gameplay, all the mechanical stuff animates smoothly and convincingly. The chaos from weapons being fired and delivered does the job, and with a rock-inspired soundtrack, the game can make you feel like you’re in a huge war.
The tragedy of this game lies in the fact that it could have been outstanding. With a faster and more responsive feel combined with proven dual joystick controls, 2360: Battle for Cydonia could be much more playable and enjoyable. But when the fundamental gameplay experience is so unrefined and frustrating, all the weapon customization, mission variety, and upgrade trees don’t matter. This is a genuine attempt to try something new and different in the popular top-down shooter space, but unfortunately, it doesn’t quite come together the way it needs to.