It's time to shoot those balls where it hurts.
There's no getting around it. Ballistic SE looks and plays similar to Bizarre Creations' award-winning Geometry Wars series, and you know what, that's perfectly fine, since it's a polished and thoroughly intense twin-stick shooter with enough eye-candy and assorted features to keep you engrossed.
That said, the game puts you in control of a ball within a sectioned playfield, where the goal is to blast enemy balls while doing your best to stay alive and achieve a high score. Granted, this sounds exactly like Geometry Wars (just replace balls with shapes), but Radiangames separates this title from the competition with 10 ship enhancements that add a cool level of depth and strategy.
If you play the game's primary mode, Infinite Waves, you can choose two of these power-ups to start, and more the further you progress. They include Rapid Fire (more shots per second), Extra Range (shots travel further), Mega Bomb (bigger explosions) and a Score Boost that increases the multiplier, among others. You can even upgrade these in-game boosts to make them more effective. What's more, your shots ricochet off walls (a useful tactic), and a slow motion feature provides momentary respite from the kamikaze hordes.
On top of that, the developer threw yellow orbs onto the screen that serve as bombs (hence the Mega Bomb item). Pass through one of these suckers and it blows up, taking out enemies within the vicinity. These little guys make all the difference between scoring hundreds of thousands of points to millions, and it's best that you use them as a last resort.
If progressively difficult waves get old (they won't for a long time, since the game features online leaderboards via Game Center), there's Challenge mode, where you're able to choose the 10 enhancements from the start and must survive for two minutes against insane odds; longest two minutes of your life, outside of waiting for test results.
Taking all of this into account, Ballistic SE definitely feels familiar, but it's like seeing an old friend. At the end of the day, this is a smartly designed and thrilling shooter, one we intend to play after finishing this review.
Review code provided by Radiangames.
What's Hot: Intense twin-stick shooting madness, 10 cool enhancements, tricky Challenges, satisfying explosions.
What's Not: If you grew tired of Geometry Wars, there's little about Ballistic SE that'll grab your attention.