Ballistic is an insane, twin-stick shooter that seems to have been parented by Geometry Wars and a proud parent it would be. Ballistic is part of Radiangames’ Quadtastic Launch Collection, which is a PC and Mac port of the XBLIG releases. Fear not, these titles won’t be exactly the same as their earlier releases—they have all been improved and optimized for the computer. Get ready for a wild, non-blinking experience.
Stages are referred to as waves and they certainly pack the wrath of Mother Nature in them. The various enemies you have to shoot flow in a smooth and violent motion much like the ocean. With one wrong move, a world of enemies crash down upon you. Since Ballistic is on the PC now, it offers keyboard and mouse support. I would only recommend this if you consider yourself among the top tier of elite keyboard users, but I think it degrades the value of play just a bit. Plus, when I started it up with keyboard and mouse, I pushed my mouse off of the desk trying to outrun enemies.
The types of enemies that attack you come in various forms of anxiety and frustration. They go from slow moving to fast moving destroyers. In my time with the game, I haven’t seen any of them fall into any pattern. When you have to replay a wave, you know they’ll pop in a certain order, but the manner in which they move on the screen is dependent on your playing habits. I found that the blue enemies tend to be faster than you. If you allow them to chase you long enough, it seems like one or two of them turn on the jets and run you to your death. This happens even when you have the “Quicken” enhancement. I found that the additional speed, coupled with the use of reflecting bullets, granted a better outcome against hundreds of enemies, while screaming at the monitor did not.
The weapons enhancements tend to be lifesavers, not just a flavor additive. When you start, you can pick two and as you go along in the waves, you unlock the ability to add more enhancements at a time. Type of enhancements include: “Quicken,” “Damage,” “4-Way Reflect,” and “Super Ballistic.” “Quicken” allows you to move faster and “Damage” increases the amount of damage you do to the enemies. “4-Way Reflect” allows your unused bullets to bounce off the walls and take out enemies, which is great when you are making the hard turns as it protects you from enemies trying to blindside you. “Super Ballistic” creates a super version of your gun. It allows you to do triple damage on regular enemies and double damage on shielded enemies. Although your weapons power increases, they will overheat to eliminate the overuse of it and your movement speed is cut in half. There are a number of other enhancements that can be applied; while you’ll find some favorites, you will be able to re-enhance every 5 waves.
The controls are comfortable allowing for hours of game-play; until your eyes start to hurt (keep eye drops handy.) The graphics are top notch. There was never a time when the piles of enemies looked like a pile of crap; you could still see the outlines of each. The soundtrack provides an easy yet hectic listen while playing. It’s also available over at Bandcamp for only $2.99.
There are 101 waves, local and global scoreboards for bragging rights and five timed challenges. Ballistic really hit the spot for my need to have a new game addiction. Many a time, I would stop writing to check a fact, and find myself playing for at least an hour more—needing just one more wave. Ballistic will be available in the Quadtastic Launch Collection January 24th for $11.99, but you can save 16% and pre-order it for the price of $9.99.