Tag Archives: FPS

REVIEW: Death Quota R

If I’m going ahead and making grand assumptions1 here, I’m going to assume that the ‘R’ in Death Quota R ($1.00) almost certainly stands for Robots, as they are your main antagonist in the game. Which is a nice break from the usual zombie menace that developer Edelica Digital Bros. goes to whenever a new Death Quota must be met. Evidently, that quota is about to be reached, as this game represents the developer’s last project on XBLIG.

This also marks the third title in the series, an FPS buried under a Minecraftian layer of blocks. Yet you shouldn’t assume that you’ll be doing any crafting or remodeling here; the ‘levels’ in Death Quota R boil down to, more or less, collect-athons. Each stage finds you— or with a friend in local co-op— gathering a certain number of ‘powercores’, dodging flying drones and mowing down robotic patrols as you go (past games in the series had a similar objective). Once you’ve secured the amount that stage requires, a helicopter is summoned and sent for your extraction.

The entirely of this race to collect things takes place on a medium-sized island, teeming with alien structures and dark interiors, serene beachfront property, and… trees. Lots of trees. It’s also really familiar. Edelica has been getting quite the mileage out of that solitary map, as it’s been more or less the same since ZDQ 2 and the original Zombie Death Quota. Regardless of that familiarity, the map handles the task of hiding the powercores you seek in some out-of-the-way places without being overly annoying about it.

Combat remains as solid as ever. Besides your trusty, infinite-ammo-having handgun, you’ll have a handful of standard weapon types to switch up the killing (the loadout changes slightly for each stage), as well as scattered crates that appear periodically and / or get dropped from defeated enemies, netting you additional ammo, health kits, and powercores. If you tire of the short campaign (six levels), there’s always online battles for up to six players.

Death Quota R - Screen

That multiplayer will be hit and (mostly) miss, however, as XBLIG is perpetually vacant in its online lobbies. That leaves you with the single-player campaign, which gets highly repetitive after the first couple stages of collecting, and collecting, and collecting. Sometimes you collect more, sometimes less. The robotic sentries, too, will gradually get on your nerves, with their constant teleporting and shielding (more like taunting, the metal bastards).

It’s hard to shake the feeling of familiarity. The game looks great and handles just as well, but Death Quota R is really just more of the same idea already realized, under a semi-new coat of paint. Newcomers to the series will probably appreciate it for what it does, but if you’ve played a Death Quota game before this, don’t expect much refinement in Edelica’s XBLIG denouement.


  1. ‘Grand assumptions’ account for like, 85% of the decision-making in my life. You can probably guess how well that’s worked out for me. 
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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. 

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.

AvatarFortress - Screen2

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: Assault Ops: Warzone

Assault Ops: Warzone ($1.00) has a lot in common with the plain-old vanilla-no-subtitle-here Assault Ops. No doubt that’s intentional, and easy enough to spot anyway1. Developer Rendercode Games released the latter shooter in October, to very little fanfare and critical acclaim (I thought it was generic). While that game gave you an isometric view of the action, Assault Ops: Warzone offers up the more typical— and ‘mainstream-friendly’— first-person shooter.

Assault Ops - Screen

And outside of the change to your viewpoint and a new-ish map to do battle on, the gameplay itself is entirely familiar to anyone that’s dabbled in the genre. Assault Ops: Warzone allows for up to six players online2 in a deathmatch setting, with a supplemental offline mode using A.I. bots as a competent stand-in. You can once again choose from a collection of soldiers, each with his or her own stats for agility and firepower, but it largely comes down to preference more than one character being stronger or better than another.

Ditto for the weaponry, which pulls from the well-thumbed book of videogame guns; assault rifles, shotguns3, LMGs, and pistols. The first-person setting does improve on one of the original’s most glaring faults— the limited sightlines. No such issue here, as navigating corners and planning moves ahead now comes with much less surprise and / or a hail of unseen gunfire. Also, headshots(!).

Assault Ops - Screen2

Enemies still drop the always-helpful ammunition and health packs upon death, letting you string together killstreaks with relative ease; the A.I. runs from ‘go ahead and shoot me’ on Easy to ‘bullet sponge-y’ on Hard. Which you better get accustomed to. Likely you’ll be left only with the single-player option, and that mode stales pretty quick. Online play would doubtlessly fare better and provide more of a competitive spark (it comes with online leaderboards), if there was anyone left on XBLIG to duel against.

Which is the real shame. Sure the idea here is ‘generic FPS’ personified, but the sharp visuals and decent control scheme makes Assault Ops: Warzone play better than certain other first-person shooters on the service. It’s just a game that’s come too late in the cycle, putting all of its focus into an online community that really no longer exists.


  1. Because titles, man. 
  2. And before you ask, no, I never once found an online lobby and / or opponents to spar against. Oh, you didn’t ask? Well, I’m telling you anyways. Forewarned is forearmed. 
  3. Extremely over-powered, I might add. Just as in games like Call of Duty, Destiny, and the like, you can pretty much wreck shop with a shotgun from any range. Good for you run&gun types. 

REVIEW: Demon House

One of my top picks from earlier this year, having participated in the last two(!) Dream.Build.Play competitions, and looking like a much more impressive and polished FPS with each entry, Demon House (80 MSP) has seen a welcome and pre-Halloween release on XBLIG.

Fitting, as Demon House takes a decidedly paranormal angle concerning reanimated souls, steampunk skeletons, anti-spectral weaponry, and a typically-shadowy cult bent on world domination. You’ll need to put a stop to all that, of course. Story takes a backseat for most of the ride between beginning and end, however, as other than few short expository cut-scenes, it’s a pure shooter.

And in playing similar to a Doom or Quake, albeit with ghosts and a focus on steam, it’s tough to find the trouble with that. Enemies are varied and introduced gradually. Your weaponry packs both a punch and personality (your grenades are bomb-laden mechanical spiders). The game also does a great job at crafting distinctive environments, avoiding bland corridors and repeated rooms, injecting impressive lighting and effects elsewhere. There’s a brief hunt for keys and the odd switch to throw at times, part of the few minor puzzle sections that most should have no trouble navigating. Like I said, shooter.

And the AI is refreshingly adept, from flying contraptions that can heal allies to shielded machines that will actively attack and effectively thwart your advance, only able to be defeated via an obvious (but nonetheless defended) weakpoint. Enemies drop health, ammo / grenade refills, and money, the latter of which you can use to buy stat and ammo add-ons, new weapons, and increase the damage output of your existing guns, with upgrade stations that are peppered throughout the levels. You’ll likely spend 2+ hours on the campaign, with its two sprawling levels and a tough, multi-part boss finale. A word to FPS veterans; for a more-suitable challenge from the start, bump the difficulty up to Hard.

The above content alone is worth the cost, but Demon House throws in part two of its package, a wave-survival mode, playable alone or with a friend locally. Two arena maps are re-purposed from the single-player art, both of which contain upgrade stations that function exactly as those in the main game, unlocking its goods as you progress. With mini-boss waves and the escalating number of foes, the pace is even more frenetic (and potentially more fun) here. There are additional difficulty settings and options, as you’d expect, and this mode, like the single-player, offers up various challenges and trophies to earn that encourage replays.

The Eradicator— when you absolutely positively have to kill every steampunk-er in the room, accept no substitutes. 

In total, the game is a solid experience, though there are some minor quibbles if you set out looking for them, mostly in the initially-stiff controls (you can adapt, or adjust the sensitivity) or archaic design choice (the linearity isn’t a problem, but it is a little regressive to turn a corner and find literal monster closets).

Even with the protracted development time Demon House is a little rough around the edges, though after playing through it, it is immediately (and by far) the best campaign-centric first-person shooter on the indie channel at present, with an equally best-in-class co-op wave shooter as support. All for a solitary dollar. It’s a fantastic addition to anyone’s library that follows the overall upward trend of higher quality FPSes.