Also On: PC
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Capsized is one of those titles that earns the name "MetroidVania", a name describing action/exploration gameplay while you struggle to survive in a hostile world. There are many titles like this, but Capsized has that certain spark that makes you want to keep coming back for more fun, or punishment. While it doesn't take the action/exploration genre to new heights, it does offer a nice challenge and good fun despite some small shortcomings.
You and your crew have crash-landed on a hostile planet and have been scattered across its dangerous surface. Your only mission is to rescue your stranded shipmates and and escape this nightmare alive. Fortunately, you are armed with an array of weapons, a handy grappling hook and a jetpack to help on your journey. everything from the creepy inhabitants to the flora is trying to kill you, so you will be constantly running, jumping and shooting with little relief in sight. At times, wreckage or other junk will block your path, so you will have to use your grappling hook to move it and it's here that Capsized's great physics engine comes into play.
You will have to plan out how exactly you will move certain objects to clear your path. Moving one object might send 3 more crashing down, making progressing more of a chore than it should be. Mix these brain teasing puzzles with the bloodthirsty enemies that seem to overwhelm you at every turn and you have a dangerous mix. Some players may find areas too taxing and give up too easily, while others will persevere just to make a little more progression. Personally, I place myself right in the middle where I restarted an area quite a few times in fits of aggravation.
Controls are a little hard to get used to at first, and can result in much hand cramping. Aiming with the right stick while moving with the left and pressing the triggers to fire seems a little difficult while battling the first few swarms of baddies, but a little practice will get you mowing them down with ease. Also, the control in general does feel a little stiff, and not nearly as smooth as something like Serious Sam DDXXL, but it does work fine. When you begin, you are limited to the campaign mode. Collecting a set number of stars will unlock levels for the Arcade mode which ditches the story and gives you various modes of play (granted you've collected enough stars). One I particularly enjoyed was "Bot Match" where you enter a sort of deathmatch against AI players.
Other modes you can unlock include Survival, Time Trial and one called "Armless" where you are only given a knife to defend yourself against swarms of enemies. It's harder than it sounds to unlock these modes as you will have to go back and play completed levels again to get your star count up. Replaying the levels will also help sharpen your skills, and you will need said skills in the later levels. The Xbox Live Arcade version of Capsized features new layouts for the maps and even completely new levels, so even masters of the PC version will need to put in some practice. There is co-op which makes things a little easier, but it is limited to offline only.
Graphics here are nicely presented with pre-rendered backgrounds and nicely detailed surroundings. The visuals really put you in the heart of the isolation and danger that surrounds your character. Sound adds another great sensation with the limited music tracks and the ambient noises coming from every creepy corner you explore. While some of the animation can look a little stiff and unpolished, it doesn't distract from the gameplay in any way. Everything you will see and hear is near perfect for a game like this.
Capsized is a really well balanced run and gun game that can be fun and challenging for many players. I've seen other titles that are given the term "MetroidVania" but this one is definitely deserving of that loving title. at 800 MSP, its a good value for those looking for an above average action/exploration title. The somewhat strange controls and overwhelming enemy waves might turn off some at first, but once you really get into what is presented, you can find a really great experience.