Shatter – The PS3 Attitude Review
E3 was a momentous event that housed tons of gaming big screens, booth babes, and flashy lights and sounds. Tucked away between the two halls of the convention, right next to the Into the Pixel Gallery, was a lone setup. There were no booth babes, no flashy gimmicks, and just one game. The game was Shatter and its developer; Sidhe.
Finally, almost two months later, the game has been released and we were excited to finish what we had started back at E3. You play as BAT1138, a slave to the machine empire forced to harvest energy for his masters. After a breakdown, he becomes self aware and breaks free from his prison. In order to escape, BAT must successfully traverse the ten levels of the factory and defeat the bosses at the end of each.
Simplistic in nature, Shatter is a complete redesign of the retro Breakout genre of games. Reflecting balls off BAT is just the beginning as you can then â€˜suckâ€™ or â€˜blowâ€™ to change the course of the ball using the left and right triggers. At any moment, you can launch more balls, provided you have the lives to do so, for a total of four on screen at once.
Breaking the many variants of bricks rewards you with shards, which you can collect by sucking them towards you. Gather enough of them and you can then launch a Shard Storm; a devastating furry of shards that will destroy anything in its path.
To assist you in your quest for freedom, power-ups are scattered throughout the levels and include making your ball unbreakable/more maneuverable, doubling the shards on the field, and increasing your power.
Playing the game is simple enough but mastering it is a whole different story. Physics play a major role in how you act since blocks will fall towards you and balls can bounce off pretty much anything, including each other. To protect yourself from these falling blocks, you have a shield that drains your shard power while in use. While the shield is up, any shards you gather will be reflected back towards the blocks/boss. Itâ€™s a good trick to learn when you need some precision aiming.
Probably the most unique feature is the suck and blow abilities. Youâ€™re no long waiting for the ball to return to you after it hits your paddle, but are actively involved in the direction it goes in. Itâ€™s even possible to complete an entire stage without the ball even touching your paddle. Of course, you always have the option of playing it like the classic games and not use any of your features. Thereâ€™s even a trophy for doing it. It all comes down to how much you want to get out of your Shatter experience.
The game starts out relatively easy with your simple run of the mill bricks that donâ€™t have any special properties. This is where youâ€™ll learn the basics of the game and controls. The later levels become more of a challenge as bricks will move, fall, and even replicate. There are some occasions where there is simply too much happening on screen and you can lose track of whatâ€™s going on, even if you only have a single ball in play.
As you move though the different levels and their respective stages, the background is constantly changing. Each of the levels has some color theme, such as blue and ice. There are different board layouts as well; vertical, horizontal, and the ever frustrating circular. Each will require a different style of play to complete, adding new depth to the game.
It actually feels like youâ€™re escaping a factory. Machines will move and even at one point, a laser was fired across the screen. While this had no effect on the gameplay, it was a little distracting. The music, aside from being awesome, fit perfectly with the settings. Itâ€™s like listening to a retro techno mix of sounds and vibrations; perfect for the world of Shatter. The entire album, which is over 90 minutes in length is available online if you want to listen.
Completing the ten worlds doesnâ€™t take a whole lot of time; probably a few hours or so depending on your skill level. Once finished though two new modes become unlocked; Boss Rush and Bonus Mode. In Boss Rush, you go head to head with each of the ten unique bosses in succession while competing with the rest of the world for the fastest time. Figuring out how to damage the boss is part of all the fun. Some require multiple hits before you get to the heart of the boss while others will make you use your suck and blow ability to find their weak spot.
Youâ€™ll aim for the highest score in Bonus Mode; tackling each of the three different levels that are found at the end of each world. This mode is by far the most addicting. Itâ€™s classic breakout gameplay with three balls coming at you. Each reflection earns you points but the catch is that the ball speeds up. Keeping track of three fast moving objects is difficult enough but when the camera slightly changes with each wall bounce, it can make you dizzy if youâ€™re not careful. Time and time again though, we find ourselves coming back to this mode the most.
Shatter, with its unique and classic gameplay and variety of modes, can provide countless hours of fun should you choose. Each playthrough can be a different experience. Beat the game while only using a single ball on screen? Try it using multiple balls. The game is what you make it. For us, itâ€™s more of a pick up and play type rather than hours upon end. With the possibility of future DLC, weâ€™d love to see a level editor or something along the lines of multiplayer. Shatter is a great PSN title that provides just enough entertainment.