Friday, July 17, 2009


NEC Avenue

I somehow survived for many years without owning either Download episode, and during that time, the CD sequel was the only chapter I was truly curious about. People never seemed to discuss the original except to share a few laughs over its profane death-screen messages. I don't mind a little COMEDY in my shooters, but the THRILLS and SUSPENSE are what really do it for me, so I shunned DL for eons. My brother Alexei was smart enough to give the game a try and, upon doing so, immediately sent word to me that it's not only funny but also thrilling and suspenseful. My interest in it increased minutely, but even when it somehow found its way into my collection, I wasn't all that excited about it. Man, was I in for a surprise.

Download is a great, great shooter. The parallax-heavy graphics are incredible in some areas and deserve a lot more attention than they get (and probably would receive that attention if the game had been released in the US with fellow fancy multilayer sidescrollers Aero Blasters and Dead Moon). DL also boasts a solid soundtrack, fast action, and big bosses who hold their own by firing plenty of bullets, not to mention some well-implemented strategic elements. Pre-stage selection of weaponry is certainly not new to the genre, nor are the "vulcan vs. laser"-type choices that must be made here, but you'll find that your decisions can go a long way towards determining your fate in a given stage. Spreadshots will effectively fend off crafty enemies who move in from above and below, but concentrated beam-fire is your best bet for thwarting frontal assaults. You can boost the offensive capabilities of your armament through the addition of auxiliary missiles or elect to turtle up behind a defense barrier. Even the setting of ship speed, usually a matter handled at take-off and then forgotten about entirely, can come into play during tight segments.

And you'd better make some damn good decisions in preparation for and during the final level, where the game goes absolutely crazy with wild background effects and introduces a host of bizarre enemies.

As a capper to the entertainment, Download tells a strange story via lots of cinemas. No swear words are necessary for this package to be a total blast.

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