Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Barrage is the most fun 'casual' game yet. It's awesome. It's mindless, repetitive, and has no story, but it's addictive as hell and thoroughly awesome. Why?

Well, it's got simple mechanics, it's fast-paced, and it's well done. And you can play it while smoking, which is a first for the actiony type games I've looked at here. Each game is three minutes long. You're in charge of a single turret that can shoot large or small grenades (small grenades recharge faster). You aim with the mouse, you left-click to shoot large grenades, and you middle-click to shoot the small ones. Right-clicking reloads.

That right-clicking thing really reminds me of arcade light-gun games, where you shoot off the screen or perform some other task to reload, as it's really simple and obvious and you still end up forgetting to do it half the time and feeling like an idiot. That may just be me, though, and I'm sure even I would get it down pat after a few hours with this game. I'm not going to spend a few hours with the game - I got on the high score list a few times, and I saw every feature the game has to offer; I don't think I need to do more.

And that's the simple beauty of this game: play it once, you've seen all it has to offer. It's quick, and it's simple, but it's difficult, and it's skill-based. I don't really know what twitch gaming is, because I mostly just turn off games that are described as 'twitch' because I suck at them. I'm probably just not twitchy enough. Or maybe I'm just drunk and don't have the reaction time; either way, this is a twitch game for me. I've been uninstalling most of these after I review them; a few stick around, but I'm thinking this one will stay on the machine forever.

The scoring system is simple, and resembles Desktop Tower Defense more than anything else I'm familiar with. You get points for blowing stuff up - there are dudes, jeeps, and tanks, in ascending order as far as how many points you get for each. If they make it off the screen without getting blown up, you lose points commensurate (though not equal) to their value. Each moves at different speeds, and blows up at a different proximity from the impact (I think).

Graphically, if I read the website right, the dude just took a screenshot of a Command & Conquer game, and turned them into animated pieces for his game. It looks nice.

Sonically, there are booms n' whatnot. What more do you need? Nothing more!

I'm not a big fan of the Orsinal games because they're relatively slow-paced. Getting a high score in an Orsinal game seems like it would require massive, monolithic, epic, annoyingly huge amounts of time. When I die, and compare my miniscule score to the leaderboards displayed at the end, I actually feel a little better about myself. I may suck at the game, but I am way better at life, because I don't want to blow that much damn time at a silly Flash game.

Barrage avoids that issue by having each game last exactly three minutes. With time as a constraint, the game is guaranteed to be over at a certain point. It's what you do with that three minutes that defines your score, not just how long you're going to do the same boring, repetitive (albeit cute; everyone loves Orsinal's art direction) task.

All I can say in the negative is that it seems to only play in fullscreen mode, and that makes it less than ideal as a time-waster for when I'm waiting on other things, i.e. a download or an install. I can't keep an eye on what I've got on the backburner while I play.

This is not a game I'd play when I wanted to play a game. But it's perfect for pulling out when I just want to kill time and have some fun doing it. Huzzah!

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