Tag Archives: Strange Games Studios

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: Paintball Wars 2

The original Paintball War came out at (what I consider to be) a turning point for first-person shooters on XBLIG, a time of enlightenment when developers really started to hit the mark in terms of control and design. It’s no surprise that the FPS flood doors swung wide open soon after. Almost two years on, we now get a sequel to one of the first FPS1 games I covered. And… very little has changed. Paintball Wars 2 ($1.00) definitely follows the adage ‘If it ain’t broke, why fix it?’, dropping you and up to fifteen others into a colorful (and familiar) online deathmatch, featuring everyone’s favorite non-lethal2 weapon— the paintball gun.

Paintball Wars 2 - Screen

And to be honest, part of me would agree with that adage. Paintball Wars 2 retains the same setup as its predecessor, letting you paint your foes on a single, medium or large-sized (according to player vote) map. The action is fast-paced3 and fun, with constant ‘duels’ springing up, avatars jumping over hedges and / or searching for a moment of respite underneath a bridge. Ammunition is once again strategically-scarce, though refills litter the battlefield. The arena here doesn’t have as much verticality as in the previous game, as the wide open spaces favor confrontation over positioning. If anything, this limits ‘sniping’, forcing players into close quarters.

Similar to the mainstream AAA shooters, the game offers up a ridiculously large slate of unlockables, gained via kills and leveling. You can choose from a number of typical perks and additional weapons, and attachments for said guns. This includes more accurate barrels and scopes, and some superficial customization stuff like gun camo. All in all, you’ll have plenty of rewards to earn in continually playing. Killstreak cards are awarded for successive kills (or can be found in the environment), doling out temporary bonuses like invulnerability or dual wield.

Paintball Wars 2 - Screen2

Online play has the usual small hiccups here and there, but the games I found were relatively lag-free… when I found them, that is. The bright side? You aren’t exactly held captive by the whims of the XBLIG community. One of the biggest pluses of this series has been the addition of AI bots4 offline. ‘Single-player’ features its own unlockable ranks and perks, helping to supplement the online half of the game when other players can’t be found. It’s a nice idea to increase its function and longevity.

It’s just all so familiar, with developer Strange Games taking zero risks, nor applying any lessons it might’ve picked up since the original’s release. Granted, it’s not bad if you’re looking for some madcap fun; just don’t expect to be wowed or confronted with anything new. Consider Paintball Wars 2 more of an ‘add-on map’ than a legitimate step forward for the series.

  1. Well, I suppose it should be considered a hybrid FPS / third-person view, but it’s much, much easier to play entirely in first-person. Be sure to change that option immediately. 
  2. Ha, say that to my left leg, which got butchered in a ‘real’ paintball match last year. ‘Only stings for a second‘, they said. My bruises would say otherwise. 
  3. Think of the game’s ‘flow’ as somewhere between Call of Duty and Unreal Tournament
  4. Albeit laughably easy to kill. 

REVIEW: The Co-Op Zombie Game

There’s quite a few things in life that I dread doing. Public speaking, tax preparation, jury duty, dentist appointments, to name a few. Reviewing another zombie wave shooter is a recent inductee to that list. There’s just… there’s just so many of them. Deserved or not, The Co-Op Zombie Game (80 MSP) caused a reflexive sigh upon startup, another dreaded event I’d have to man up and tackle.

The Co-Op Zombie Game - Screen

Turns out that’s being a little too dramatic, and I have since rescinded my sigh. Moving on. It’s not fully intentional, but Strange Games Studios’ newest bears a striking resemblance to The $1 Zombie Game, a bizarrely-popular (and I’m stressing ‘popular’; I still don’t get the fascination) wave shooter that staled after ten minutes (yes, in my opinion). The Co-Op Zombie Game adopts the literal naming both for ease of recognition and truth in advertising. Your assumptions are correct; it’s all about battling the undead, and supports up to four players online.

Though the game promises almost twenty levels, it is, in fact, one sprawling piece of real estate, broken up by piles of debris that transfer you from one area to the next. The layout runs from narrow lanes to open intersections, with plenty of room for a party of four to spread out and cover their respective ground. Things will start to look and feel a little same-y and sparse, but there is a definitive design for each stage despite the reused urban environment. Monotony is held at bay with some handy explosive barrels and ammo / gun crates, giving the level some much-needed interactivity and you a reason to explore every nook and cranny.

Your starting pistol aside, you are saved from ‘wave shooter fatigue’ by the chance of finding new and stronger guns (shotguns, assault rifles, and scoped variants). The game graciously allows you to carry two weapons at once, with the ability to swap out whenever you happen upon a better situation. Ammo is generally plentiful, though melee weapons can bypass the trouble of reloading in a tight spot, with the trade-off of being up close and personal with your attacks. You’d do better to equip two guns, though, as the amount of zombies in each wave predictably increases as you go along.

The Co-Op Zombie Game - Screen2

Online co-op or free-for-all modes also take a potentially pedestrian task to a higher level, making the game far more dynamic and fun whether you’re playing with or against friends / strangers. Cooperative’s rule set is the same as solo. Free-for-all makes everyone a target, zombie and human alike, fighting towards a preset score with extra points awarded for killing other human players. While there are a few minor hiccups and inconsistencies (players passing through walls / barriers, for instance), overall, the matches I encountered were solid.

There isn’t much new to the formula here, though the environmental interactions and online play carry what otherwise would be a standard zombie vehicle. With a full party, The Co-Op Zombie Game is good fun. It means well, plays well, and ends well. That’s probably the highest praise you can get from a wave shooter cynic like myself.

‘Paintball War’ Gets a Fresh Coat

After a lengthy hiatus, Strange Games Studios‘ avatar FPS Paintball War (review) has received its promised update by adding a second map, the idyllic and heavily-green country scenes you see in the screenshots below, soon to be covered in paint and dead bodies. It’s a much more open and expansive setting than the narrow streets and view-obstructing buildings of the original urban map.

For those of you that have leveled up to a decent rank (17+), a new weapon appears! The railgun, slow and drastically overpowered (i.e., awesome if it’s in your hands), is now available for your one-shotting pleasure. It’s predictably ideal in the wide sightlines of the new map, letting you take care of business from afar instead of getting your avatar’s clothes dirty in an up-close gunfight. Enjoy anonymity and being the troll of the battlefield, you’ve earned it.


Paintball War - New Map

Paintball War - New Map2

REVIEW: Zombie Strippers Stole My Heart Then Ate My Brains

With a mouthful like Zombie Strippers Stole My Heart Then Ate My Brains (80 MSP), you can be guaranteed of two things; you’re not in the land of highbrow setups anymore, and naked zombies will factor prominently into the gameplay. True enough, if you’re certain you’d do well in a real apocalypse and you suffer from an addiction to ladies in a constant state of near-undress, ZSSMHTAMB will surely scratch that perverted itch of yours with zero apologies.

The story is a trifle about security guards working a convention for the recently de-clothed (‘Stripper Con’), who happen into the epicenter of the zombie apocalypse. There’s some dialogue between stages that elaborates on their situation (the voice acting runs from boring to cheesy), though the focal point is clearly on the convention attendees and sending them to the after-afterlife. You’ll start off with a pistol and work your way up from there. Each round contains limited ammo (you’ll never run out; there are always random drops to find), and all of the action takes place in a single medium-sized arena, fighting through 20 waves of girls that were formerly just trying to pay the bills.

Unfortunately, the game’s commitment to boobs can only carry it so far before it gets tiring. It succumbs to its own machinations, namely the vaunted variety, which boils down to the same gig that retail games love to put the player through; the helpless NPC that needs to be defended while he / she completes an objective. In Zombie Strippers, that character is Jake, and while his health is low and his waves tend to be the most frustrating, they are a necessary evil, as Jake is the procurer of all things dealing with weaponry. Those shiny, fully automatic solutions to the walking dead that are locked away at the beginning? Protect your pal for a few rounds, and you gain access to those guns one at a time.

This could have been the end for the game, but luckily the difficulty never strays far from ‘shooting gallery’ levels of challenge, even when new zombie forms (severed torsos, and an acid-spewing type) are introduced. While Jake will surely manage to get himself killed a few times, it’s easy enough to continue (wave progress is saved) and stick with it, especially with the promise of new guns just over the hump. From a stronger handgun to grenades, to an LMG that skips lengthy reloads entirely, these unlocks are perfectly suited for the larger crowds you’ll run into. It’s not hard to fathom then that stocking up on ammo and cutting loose is the pinnacle of the game’s fun.

Zombie Strippers Stole My Heart Then Ate My Brains - Screen

A few other issues crop up. Zombie spawns are a tad sketchy at present, and can assemble an army behind you (yes, even after you’ve cleared it) without notice if you’re not careful. And though hit detection is mostly fine, the same herky-jerky controls present in Paintball War persist here. Adjusting the sensitivity works, though it’ll still be a complicated adjustment for some. On the plus side, there is the promise of online co-op coming eventually. As the adage goes, ‘Never fight undead strippers alone’. If you have a friend, it’s something to look forward to.

Even with copious levels of skin and a formidable arsenal with which to eliminate the undead, Zombie Strippers Stole My Heart Then Ate My Brains rests squarely in the ‘not good, not bad either’ category. It has some fun, and you’ll easily manage a dollar’s worth of entertainment out of it, but Strange Games Studios will have to change things up for the obligatory sequel if they want to keep my business.