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ups: 4 Player Co-op Multiplayer, lock-on mechanic is sweet, symphonic music, spiffy graphics, Insane mode is great
downs: The 6 levels go by fast, lame to play alone

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Aegis Wing XBLA - Review
four star
posted by: Chris Martin
publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
developer: Carbonated Games
date posted: 02:48 PM Thu May 17th, 2007
last revision: 02:52 PM Thu May 17th, 2007

Click to read.Definitely one of the nicest surprises on Xbox Live since Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Aegis Wing is an old-school scrolling shooter that harkens back to video-game heyday and reminds one of, at the same time, Gradius and Defender, but also somewhat Ikaruga (although it\'s not nearly as difficult or as filled with minutae). Aegis Wing is one of the best downloads for Xbox Live so far and, best of all, it\'s free!...for a while.

Aegis Wing is created by a few interns at Microsoft, but don\'t take that as a stab--though the word intern often connotes easily abused and under-paid--this game is excellent. The game is simple, you shoot down enemies who look like spears or umbrellas, or other oddly suggestive things (sperm anyone?), collect powerups to unleash deadly attacks, and team-up (X-button) with allies in order to unleash more powerful, and, therefore, deadlier attacks.

Whilst attached to an ally, you gain the ability to fire in any direction (and your rate of fire increases), but you lose mobility and then for good or ill, must trust your life to your teammate so long as you\'re attached. The more ships you have Power-Ranger\'d together, the more firepower you have and the more effective your special attacks will be. The bigger you get, however, the slower you go. A quick press of the X button, and you disentangle from the group, allowing you great mobility.

The powerups are thus: the Hades Beam (a straight shot beam weapon that can take out asteroids and everything else in one blast), the Gorgon Burst (an EMP offensive/defensive type weapon that short-circuits enemies and dissolves their fire), the Arcus Missile (a heat-seeking missile) and the Lambda Shield (which reflects enemy bullets back at enemies).

The best part is, obviously, the team-up aspect, and assigning different power-ups to different players. For whatever reason, being attached to other people either make the weapon bigger (aka, screen clearing), give you more missles (with the Arcus Missile), or allow the shield to last longer. The mechanic is simple, but, in all honesty, perfect.

Another great thing about Aegis Wing is that while it\'s four player co-op over Live, it\'s also 4 player co-op locally--a greatly underused option in videogames.

If you\'re connected to Live, you also get leaderboards, which are as you would expect.

The boss battles (of which there are 6, although 2 of them reside in one level) are fun, if not simple. You fight these strange metal-eye bosses (one of which looks shockingly like the \"squiddies\" from the Matrix Trilogy) and each has the obligatory red-painted weakness. They\'re pretty straightforward and can be downed in a minute or two, but toward the end of the game they get rather tricky. Playing the game on insane, you\'ll immediately notice that these alien/robot things aren\'t messing around...they blow you up good.

If you\'re down on lives, Aegis Wing also allows for respawns to occur by randomly finding and collecting a \"capsule\" (think cockpit of your spaceship) and allow your teammate to jump back in. This essentially makes the game easier than it would otherwise be, but that\'s just fine with me. There is a tradeoff, of course, in that if you fail to get your teammate back, the game can be over quickly.

The only downside? The game has 6 levels, which can be accomplished in about an hour. So it\'s only a small diversion in the grand scheme.

Aegis Wing is not going to be available for free forever, says Microsoft. So go download it now. The timelimit on the content isn\'t certain yet. It was free on Wednesday the 16th, and it is still free, let\'s hope it stays that way for a while.

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