History has a tendency of repeating itself. Last generation, behind the pomp and grandeur of retail launch lineups, a pair of downloadable games, in Bizarre Creation’s Geometry Wars and Housemarque’s Super Stardust HD were the two real killer apps for their respective platforms at launch. Now, Housemarque are looking set to quietly take down the big guns again with Resogun, a game that aims to do for Defender what SSHD did for Asteroids, and seems thus far to be successful.

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To those too young to remember even playing one of the many knocked off Defender clones for home computers let alone Eugene Jarvis’ masterpiece itself in the arcades, Defender is a game about patrolling an alien landscape, blasting flying inhabitants, and protecting ground based humans from being carted off and transformed into mutants. Resogun has a similar core concept, but has more of an aggressive approach than Defender’s titular nature.

Like Defender, you move on a 2D plain across a wrap around map, but Resogun’s 3D presentation lets you see the opposite side of the torus ‘behind’ where you’re playing. It’s an ingenious approach that means you’re constantly aware of what’s happening everywhere on the level, and can spot enemy waves approaching and their movement patterns and mentally prepare, before unleashing hot laser death.

Such preparation is important, since when things start kicking off, you’ll be too busy to think. projectiles and aliens hurl themselves at you almost in bullet hell volumes, leading to some quick thinking and firing. Happily though, you have an array of offensive and defensive options open to you. The right stick handles firing, meaning you can shoot both in front and behind you, while smart bombs and an overdrive mode charged up by through effective play will help control a crowd. Like Stardust meanwhile, and the pair of arcade originals that inspired Housemarque, effective use of the boost button (hyperspace thirty plus years ago) is instrumental in getting yourself out of a jam (and potentially into another one).

RESOGUN_S03Though Defender is the first game your mind leaps to when one sees Resogun (assuming you’re old enough, of course), its approach to saving human kind is very different to Jarvis’. Humans run around the stage floor, but in fewer numbers than Defender’s, and rather than simply protect them from abduction, it’s your job to pick them up and hurl them bodily (with an amusing tug of the left trigger) into a goal. Do so and you’ll earn a power up or score boost, and, humans saved, it’s onto a more traditional boss fight, where your side scrolling shmup skills are tested in order to shoot the ever poorly made glowing weak spot.

This being a PS4 game, success is naturally met with a glorious pyrotechnic display, joined by some glorious terrain deformation as ground based enemies are blown up and errant shots crash into the landscape, causing tiny voxels to scatter everywhere. This is a ‘juicy‘ game, minimal effort creating so much positive feedback that serotonin is in constant production driving you to do more, go further, score higher.

Obviously, high score chasing is the name of the game here, with constant motion required to grow and maintain your multiplier. This makes it all the more perfect a launch game, especially with the PS4’s heightened sense of community and sharing; one can easily imagine receiving a phone alert from your pesky mate who’s just edged out your score while you’re at work, and posted the video to prove it. It’s going to be a competition only intensified by Resogun’s presence on the Playstation Plus Instant Game Collection from day one across all territories; this new age Defender looks to be its host platform’s perfect guardian, and it’s one I cannot wait for.

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