Category Archives: FPS

REVIEW: Avatar Laser Attack

Though they’ve since branched out to other consoles and ideas, Strange Games Studios has been at the ‘FPS XBLIG’ game for a long time. Running between paintball wars and zombies wave shooters, they’ve generally offered up basic but fun experiences, competent if ultimately same-y and rough around its gameplay edges. Avatar Laser Attack ($1.00) continues that trend unabated.

Avatar Laser Attack - Screen

Its setup comes with your standard FPS toppings; online deathmatches for up to 16 players1 on a single map, or offline play against the pathetically-easy AI2 for you solo artists. The arena itself— a ‘space station’— is passable but largely nondescript, a mix of interconnected hallways, kill rooms, and balconies. And crates. Lots and lots of crates. You’ll find the usual assortment of ammo boxes and health packs scattered around, as well as the occasional killstreak pickup in physical form.

Like previous Strange Games shooters (and a la Call of Duty), the killstreaks here run as a reward for netting a set number of kills without dying, starting with personal radar, then letting you dual-wield your current gun, and finally, making you temporarily invulnerable to enemy bullets. You can activate them at any time after earning them, giving you some control and strategy over how the battles play out.

Avatar Laser Attack - Screen2

The progression system wisely follows the FPS mold, gifting you XP for kills (and taunts, if you’re so inclined) to increase your level and gain access to additional weapons (think laserfied SMGs, assault rifles, and a rail gun) and perks (faster reloads, quicker weapon swaps, etc.). None of these guns or unlockable skills are particularly revolutionary or necessary to the end game, but they are a nice incentive to continue grinding. For a little while.

Avatar Laser Attack plays fine and controls well enough (switch your view from third-person to first-person in the options right away), though it’s nothing you haven’t seen and heard and played from this developer before. It’s fun for a few matches if you’ve got friends to invite, but alone (the way most people will probably play it), it just doesn’t have the staying power.


  1. Not gonna happen, because XBLIG. 
  2. Like ’75 kills and maybe one death’ type of pathetically-easy. That’s fine if you want to feel like a golden god, but not so much if you came looking for a challenging fight. 
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REVIEW: Block King 2

Much like the original, the genius (those always judging books by their covers would say anti-genius) of Block King 2 ($1.00) isn’t in its basic, blocky1 looks or its limited selection of game modes; it’s in its uncanny ability to bring together groups of friends to take part in frantic, FPS-style, human-Jenga deathmatches. Said matches are usually full of obscenities, WTF moments, and plenty of human error blamed on the game, internet connections, and other imaginary obstructions2. Oh, and fun, too. There’s a lot of fun here.

Block King 2 - Screen

The premise of the game remains unchanged. You— and up to seven others online— battle for the high ground3 while simultaneously breaking apart the ground beneath you… and others, of course. While you shoot and control your avatar from the standard FPS perspective, the emphasis here is more on platforming. Your success ultimately depends on your ability to dodge and jump with as much grace as you can muster, and maybe get off a well-timed shot or two. If you can grab the lone powerup (think higher jumps, multi-shots, etc.) at the beginning of the match too, well, you’re most of the way there.

New this time around are a couple of different block types, including one that prevents you from jumping (not good when you’re in the heat of battle), and another that automatically sends you flying once you touch it. The game’s biggest change comes with the much-needed inclusion of A.I. bots that will stand in for human players while playing offline, which is extremely helpful given the lack of an online community. Such is the state of XBLIG; you’re more than likely going to  have to organize matches with friends yourself, rather than hoping to find random people playing the game.

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Which you should, because Block King 2 is a hell of a lot of fun to play online. Thankfully it’s not required as it was with the first game, but that’s definitely the intended way to go (and sadly, you won’t be able to unlock new characters and skin colors unless you play online). Once again, games like Block King 2 prove you don’t need the fanciest visuals and a dozen different game modes to make a great game. All you need is a rather simple idea, some blocks, randomized chaos, and a few friends.


  1. Sorry, too easy. 
  2. Add some blatant racism and homophobic remarks to the mix, and you’d have your average online gaming experience. 
  3. The ‘high ground’ is tactically important, always. Anakin didn’t have it, and look what happened to him. Sure, you get a cool suit and the voice of James Earl Jones, but you’re giving up Natalie Portman and an actual human body with all your appendages. Seems like a steep penalty for not having the ‘high ground’, amirite? 

REVIEW: AvatarFortress

Part of me dies inside every time I see a new online shooter for XBLIG. That’s almost certainly linked to the indisputable fact that most multiplayer-only games on the service simply do not have an audience, or, at the very least, enough players online at any given moment to make for interesting matches. Games Brothers1 AvatarFortress2 ($1.00) is the latest proof of that fact.

AvatarFortress - Screen

Its particulars are the stuff that any standard arena shooter is made up of— a castle map layout with long corridors and a centrally-located killing pit, multiple tiers and varied environments, including exteriors and an underground cave system. It allows for up to 12 players in a Deathmatch flavoring, with a handful of weapon types and more unlockable guns earned by leveling up.

Nothing you haven’t seen or played before, of course, but it works as designed. The map is large enough in some rooms to enable you to escape an ambush, but still claustrophobic enough to funnel players into its inevitable firefights. If you look hard enough, you can almost see the makings of some potentially fast and furious battles.

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And that’s about as close as you’re likely going to get to finding any action. The entirety of this game is dependent on other people. There are no AI bots to spar against, or any local modes, making the single-player portion of it rather meaningless (short of exploring the map). Online play is clearly the only way to go, but, predictably, I never once found a single match to test out the multiplayer.

Which is, sadly, par for the course on XBLIG. AvatarFortress dresses the part of a shooter, and handles as well as any budget FPS would, but without even a hint of an online community around to actually play it, you’re better off to let this one pass by.


  1. Developers of the retro-fine (and probably overlooked) gem, 8BitsRetroZSurvivals. It’s the ‘Nazi Zombies’ mode from Call of Duty, in pixel form. And it’s pretty great. 
  2. Not sure if this will be the same for everybody, but there’s a strange stutter on the main screen that outright refuses to let me scroll down and make selections in anything less than five minutes time. It’s weird, and an absolute pain in the ass to navigate. 

REVIEW: Medieval Zombies

Medieval Zombies ($1.00) brings forth yet another FPS game built on the time-tested practice of slaughtering legions of undead. Well, it’s more a first-person hack & slasher than shooter, but you get the idea. You better get the idea by now. This is the part where I blah blah blah, filler filler filler, and it’s like every wave-based zombie game you’ve ever heard of or played. No need to rehash or explain away the plot, because none of that matters once the zombies shuffle onscreen.

The game’s name implies a retro hook, and to some extent, it does feature some of that ‘ye olde design’. There are no traditional firearms in Medieval Zombies. (Semi-)true to the time period1, your roster of weapons includes things like swords, dual daggers, a lance, or a very-slow-firing crossbow. It’s also involves thousands… nay, millions, of the blockiest, schlockiest, barely-animated zombies you’ve ever laid eyes on. Looks aren’t everything, right? Right? Of course.

Thankfully, the zombie AI is well done in its place, with enemies reacting not just to your presence, but also to things like noise and player taunts, allowing you to wrangle together dozens of walkers for a massive kill-off and / or to lure them away from chests and other potential treasure-seeking moments. And looting items and weapons is the key component here, giving you extra food (to maintain energy) and bandages (to heal yourself or fallen allies2), or the potential to snag a better damage-dealing armament.

Better weapons means you clear out stages quicker… at the cost of durability. This game subscribes to Silent Hill‘s school of hard knocks, meaning its melee weapons dull and eventually break over time / repeated use. There’s plenty of chests to open on each map, but the limited space in your bag (6 slots) means you’ll have choose wisely between healing items and weapons, as well as stat-boosting passive upgrades to your armor, which allow for certain perks like decreased energy drain, or faster chest-searching.

Medieval Zombies - Screen

That careful trade-off in item management is interesting and requires thought (as well as the zombie-free space to think), but the action itself is cookie-cutter and monotonous. With swarms regularly reaching into the hundreds of zombies, you can see why. And if you should die, the game places you at the start of the ‘day’ you fell on, taking away all your progress and inventory… and any desire to rebuild your arsenal. The promise of a million zombies on a single map is a nice thought, but the banal gameplay leading up to that means you’ll have hacked and slashed your way through your fill of cloned zombies long before you reach that promised land.

For better or worse, the Undead are a genre all on their own, but at the end of the day, Medieval Zombies is just another entry in that category. There’s no real draw or hook, and it’s not really a viable substitute or alternative for something like the recently-reviewed Deadburg, which balances its zombies with exploration and crafting. By comparison, Medieval Zombies is ultra repetitive, visually unkempt, and unfortunately… not very fun.


  1. King Arthur never dealt with any zombies that I was aware of, and I actually paid attention in school. 
  2. Each round you get a handful of faithful knights that will randomly go around slaying zombies in your stead, cutting down on the high enemy counts over time. You’ll still be doing most of the heavy lifting— i.e. slaughtering— yourself. Natch. 

REVIEW: Deadburg

Similar to DayZ— or XBLIG’s own ApocZReanimated GamesDeadburg ($1.00) is a zombie survival adventure set in a sprawling, completely explorable world. Visually, it’s a cross between Minecraft‘s blocky environs and a more realistic look for its items and zombies1, meeting nicely somewhere in the middle of the two styles. Its idea is well-worn by now, but the end result is one of the more playable crafter / shooter types you can find on the service.

Deadburg - Screen

Staying true to the genre and those aforementioned games, your objective in Deadburg is survival. This requires the obvious finesse in combat, battling undead hordes and watching your health, but also in monitoring your food and water situation. Strangely, this zombie apocalypse overfloweth with water bottles and canned goods, making this less of a serious concern about micromanagement and more of an annoying, ‘Don’t forget to to eat and drink’ bit.

Regardless, you will certainly have no shortage of houses and stores to search for said gear. Each world ‘seed’ is procedurally-generated, granting you hundreds2 of options to loot out life-saving bandages, firearms, items, materials, etc. In fact, it’s quite overwhelming at first glance. Multi-storied homes and abandoned businesses line the zombie-filled streets. Huge skyscrapers and buildings loom in the distance, erupting upwards into your game world all Inception-like, promising their own rewards and surprises.

Deadburg - Screen2

And dangers. Zombies are keen to taste human flesh, of course, and Deadburg offers up a large collection of melee weapons and guns, ranging from sledgehammers (which doubles as your ‘pickaxe’ to break apart the buildings / blocks) and golf clubs, to pistols and assault rifles. Each comes with their own durability and damage output (or limited ammo), necessitating that usual carrot-on-the-stick strategy of continuing to explore and look for better gear.

Your avatar can effectively ‘level up’ as well, buffing skills like strength and stamina, or various attributes that will, say, give you an edge in combat, grant you night vision, or increase your odds and talents in crafting. The Minecraft-ian hook is more than just an excuse to design and / or wreck the environments, too. Build makeshift bridges to cross rooftops and avoid a fight, or stack together a barricade to block off a pack of zombies. Options abound.

Deadburg - Screen3

Pertinent info aside, the online play— seemingly one of Deadburg‘s most popular features— remains sketchy even a month after release. Up to three players can join a world (or host their own)… when that game world is stable. Lag / stutters create some issues, as does the lack of an in-game map, making it hard for players / friends to find each other and team up. The zombies, too, are literally hit and miss, featuring some wonky AI where they’ll just kind of stand around looking at you until you get close. To counter this, the game does boost their collective stats, making them stronger and more resilient with each passing day / night cycle3.

These are minor bumps in the road, however. The game gives you plenty to keep you busy and exploring, finding new crafting recipes and better weapons, and leveling up to meet the challenge. Deadburg feels ambitious, massive, and involving, its environments larger and more varied than ApocZ. It’s ultimately missing the apocalyptic presentation and the ‘human element’ of something like Survivalist, but if you’ve yet to fully scratch your ‘zombie survival’ itch, Deadburg is certainly worth a look.


  1. Some of which look like an undead Vladimir Putin, curiously. 
  2. The game’s description says ‘thousands’ of explorable buildings / homes, but I’m leaning more towards the conservative side until proven otherwise. Not that it matters; you literally won’t run out of property to search or stuff to pick up. 
  3. There’s been other issues as well, including crashes and other gameplay bugs, but the developer is working on another patch to address some of those outstanding issues. Even better news, they’re working on a new ‘Defense’ mode and other tweaks / options that will be added in a future update. Keep an eye on their site for details.