When we did our little retrospective on the PSN’s first 10 games, one of the stand-outs from those early weeks was Gripshift, a supremely confident and cohesive racer/platformer which still looks great today. It’s suprising then that it’s taken two years for the New Zealand based Sidhe to come up with a second PlayStation Network title, and whilst this week’s Shatter will release alongside Killzone 2 DLC, Wipeout HD Fury and Crystal Defenders we’re sure that fans of retro-inspired shooters will take great pleasure in knowing that Shatter could be the best of the bunch.
What at first appears to be a vectorised horizontal brick breaker soon changes into a physics-based shooter with not only varying arenas full of tumbling blocks but also a deep weapon system with multiple balls and a cool distortion beam that lets you subtly bend the projectiles to your will. The game won’t just be battling cuboid lumps, either, Shatter features boss battles and various score challenges. The team at Sidhe wanted to go back to basics after Gripshift to try to create something accessible and familiar, and although break breaking games are popular, merely emulating the classics wouldn’t be enough.
Taking the best gameplay mechanics from titles like Arkanoid and Pong, visual cues from Pac Man Championship Edition and Geometry Wars and natural trigger happy influences from shooters like Xenon 2 and R-Type, the guys at Sidhe appear to have come up with a winning formula. The game is never overly complex but offers a surprising challenge and the boss encounters change the game from being something of a me-too to a masterful exercise in game design whilst providing a limited but welcome element of exposition.
At TheSixthAxis we can’t wait to get our hands on the final version when it lands – whilst there’s no multiplayer (yet) the game will support a full raft of Trophies and online leaderboards, runs in 60fps 720p and features an original 90 minute soundtrack too. Future DLC is planned (as are ports to other platforms if the game is successful) but nothing is in concrete yet. If you’re familiar with Gripshift then you’ll know what these guys can do with the PlayStation 3, if not cast your eyes over the video above, check out these three exclusive screenshots, and then get ready for Shatter which releases Worldwide this Thursday exclusively on the PlayStation Network.