Shatter Review

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Shatter Publisher: Sidhe
Developer: Sidhe

Platforms: PlayStation 3 and PC
Reviewed on PC

Windows System Requirements: 2 GHz processor, 512 MB RAM, DirectX 9.0c compatible video card with 128 MB VRAM, 250 MB HD space, Windows XP SP3 or more recent operating system

Shatter is a modern and inspired take on classic brick-breaking games, with invigorating play punctuated by a driven soundtrack.

Kyle Ackerman

It's been a long time since I've enjoyed a brick-out-style arcade game, but Shatter has reinvigorated my love of this kind of arcade action. Back in the dark ages of gaming, I used to spend hours on end with simple games in which a paddle knocked a ball back into bricks at the top of the screen. Extremely basic physics transformed simple play into something obsessively entertaining. As games improved and became more sophisticated, titles like Arkanoid and Ricochet introduced power-ups and wildly different play areas that took the fundamental formula to a new level. Shatter splendidly reinvents the formula, making a brick-out-style game fun again, and all to the sound of driving electronic music.

ShatterShatter's basic play follows the age-old formula – you pilot a paddle that moves back and forth, reflecting an energy ball at a variety of destructible objects. Even without Shatter's twists on the formula, the levels are varied and interesting, with gravity sometimes pulling the ball down and sometimes to the side, with yet other levels in which gravity seems to fall outward from the center of circular levels. There are plenty of ordinary blocks that burst into fragments that can be collected, but there are blocks that repel the ball, and others that act as thrusters for attached blocks, sending entire structures spinning into space. There are even blocks that bud organically into yet more obstacles to destroy.

To cope with these obstacles, players have the ability to launch multiple balls simultaneously, activate a shield to avoid careening blocks, and suck or blow the atmosphere to collect fragments or manipulate the path of the ball. Once enough fragments are collected, players can activate a "shard storm" that can be used to eliminate vast areas of the board.

If the basic play isn't enough, the game sports 10 distinct worlds, each with its own boss battles. I'm not typically a fan of boss battles, but Shatter manages to create different bosses, each engaging without being frustrating, and requiring players to exploit the game's various abilities (blowing shields out of the way or firing a shard storm to accelerate a boss' death) to complete, making for a varied experience that left me wondering what the next world and boss would hold.

What makes Shatter truly exceptional is that each level has so many possible strategies, enemies and types of blocks to overcome that the game avoids falling into a rut. There are multiple strategies and even replayability as I tried for higher scores, or to make it through with multiple balls in play. At $10, Shatter is easy to recommend, and it could probably demand an even higher price.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on April 7, 2010 6:32 PM.

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