Artificial Intelligence Police Department (AIPD) marks another twin-stick shooter in a growing list of similar games in that genre that have come out as of late. Developed by Blazing Badger, AIPD follows the style of Geometry Wars, which is another twin-stick made famous by its simple yet fanatic gameplay, and colourful neon art style. However, rather than expanding and improving on the ideas in Geometry Wars, AIPD lacks a lot of the charm and polish from the game it borrows heavily from.
AIPD: Xbox One [Reviewed], PlayStation 4, PC
Developer: Blazing Badger
Publisher: Mamor games
Release Date: 29 January 2016
Price: £7.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Developer/Publisher]
The gameplay of AIPD is very much like every other twin-stick shooter. You move your ship around with the left stick and aim with your right stick while using the right trigger to fire your primary weapons. Firing your primary weapon too much will cause your ship to overheat, which will not only jam your weapons (rendering you defenseless for a short period), but your ship will also drop a mine that will damage you if you’re in the vicinity.
It’s an interesting mechanic that forces you to pick your shots more carefully or risk hurting yourself because you were too trigger happy, but at the later waves when enemies are everywhere, only adds to the frustration when you aren’t able to create a space because you have to wait for your gun to cool down. There are also power-ups that will occasionally drop for players to pick up such as a power-up that slows down time to help you better assess the situation, or super missiles that lock onto nearby enemies. You’re only allowed to hold one power-up and special weapon, with a strategic element to how you handle them. Along the way, you’ll also unlock different primary weapons and modifiers to customize your ship with.
After each level, you are forced to choose between two challenges before you can move on to the next level. There are a variety of challenges that are all designed to make the next level you face a bit more difficult. These range from making drones faster, having certain enemies drop bombs after they are destroyed, giving the bigger enemy ships escorts that shield them, or an EMP field that causes you to lose the ability to fire your gun periodically throughout the level. These challenges range in terms of difficulty and multiplier score. It’s because of these challenges that every game playthrough will be different since you can choose between different challenges each time. It’s also because of this that the game can be very difficult depending on which ones you are given (or forced to choose between) to the point where it’s almost impossible to survive long enough to reach the last boss.
Multiplayer is only available for local players, with up to 4 players being able to share in the chaos that is on the screen. However, everyone shares the same life bar meaning that you could die without ever taking a hit. The lack of any online multiplayer means that anyone who does not have a friend/family member available to play with will be stuck with playing the game solo.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about AIPD is its graphics and presentation. The bright neon colours of the ships and weapons and the beautiful particle effects along with the techno music makes AIPD a game that is appealing to the sights and sounds. However, even the presentation can be a detriment to the gameplay at times. It’s easy to get distracted by all flashy colours and explosions that happen while playing, or not be able to see which parts or safe or unsafe due to the barrage of bright colours everywhere on the screen.
AIPD is one game that won’t be remembered long after the initial playthrough, because it doesn’t offer anything unique or original in a genre that has seen dozens of similar games over the years. The console version feels like a very lazy port, with a UI that uses a mouse cursor instead of being properly adjusted for a controller. The added challenges after each wave makes the game more frustrating rather than simply a fun challenge, and the lack of different maps or actual unique game modes means there is very little else to explore after the first hour of gameplay. The lack of any online multiplayer also means that those looking to play the game with friends from around the world will be out of luck with AIPD. Fans of the genre may find themselves trying to achieve the highest score possible in the leaderboards, but anyone looking for a fun twin-stick shooter may want to look elsewhere.