February 22, 2008

Review Extravaganza Friday: Audiosurf

So I bought this game on a whim, and it has me entranced. It’s a download-only PC game, and you can buy it on Steam… they’ve got a website here.
Basically, what this game is is a weird combination of both music rhythm games and falling-block puzzle games. You load the game up, and you insert a favorite MP3 or whatever. It reads like every file format ever, and even just CDs. Then you pick a mode. They call them characters, but each one plays different enough that it’s basically a different mode. There are hardcore point modes where it’s all about being the best and having like these crazy fucking reflexes to score these huge combos… or you can just play the fun silly ones like I do. I play “Vegas,” which has a random shuffle instead of any sort of skill-based way to take care of your blocks. I also play a lot of “Mono-pro,” which takes the game away from puzzler aspects and makes it more of a… reflex dodging game where you have to grab colored blocks and dodge grey blocks, trying to build up a multiplier.
Every level is made by the computer based on the music itself. So like… if you play that song a second time, it’s going to be the same thing? And if anyone else plays that song, it will be the same thing. The levels it creates actually do a really great job of syncing to the music. The blocks themselves make sense based on what’s going on, but what normally gets me is how much sense the hills and turns on the little race track that is the level work with the song. Like… if it’s got a fast thumping beat, there’ll be all these little hills, and the little ship will bounce up and down constantly… well, here’s a silly example of someone playing a level on Mono. You’ll get the idea, I think.
Finally, you have scoreboards created for any song you play. If it’s popular, you can compete against the world! If it’s not, you can just compete against a few random fans of that song and yourself or your friends. The fact that it tracks all this leaderboard data in their own servers for any song you might plug in is pretty damn awesome, in my opinion. It doesn’t work perfectly, since it’s based on the Song ID stuff in the tracks. If you changed yours to make it a little different for some reason, you’ll be on a scoreboard by yourself. But for the most part, it works great. And if you don’t want to sit around, wishing that someone would play your favorite song so you can show off your high score, they have a selection of Indie tracks on an “Audiosurf Radio” tab where everyone has access, and thus competition will be, which is a smart idea. Hopefully those tracks will change on a weekly or biweekly basis, but it’s too early to tell now. I won’t use it anyway, but I appreciate it being there. Really, though, there are obviously a decent number of people playing there. I found mostly full leaderboards for things like Albuquerque by Weird Al, which is 11 minutes and 24 seconds worth of dedication to play through. It was fun, though. There were also pretty decently-sized leaderboards for pieces of the Persona 3 soundtrack.
The point is, this game is definitely fun. It would seem like a great way to listen to a new CD, or just waste a few minutes with your favorite songs when you get that “music game” itch, knowing it’ll always HAVE your favorite songs available. Not to mention the price is right at 10 bucks. If you like music games, you should probably give this one a go. It’s a good time!

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