Spareware Review (Xbox One)
Spareware on Xbox One, developed by Rusto Games, is a twin-stick shooter with light RPG mechanics with player leveling, skill trees and a unique cell management system. At first glance you might assume you just try to survive as long as possible against hordes of enemies. While you wouldn’t be completely wrong, you’d be overlooking the surprising amount of depth to the game. With 4 player local multiplayer, it becomes even more fun, just try to avoid shooting your fellow comrades.
The story of Spareware is pretty simple; It’s the year 2186. The environment has turned destructive and humans now live in protective city domes. Robots are rebelling against humans and that’s about it. Gain new abilities and destroy any human that stands in your way. Nothing special, but it does the job.
Before playing each level, the player can equip new gear in five categories: head, torso, left arm, right arm, and feet. At the beginning of the game you won’t have many options, as most of the gear is locked. You can collect new gear throughout the game, but if you die, you will lose everything. You can unlock gear permanently by earning achievements, a decision by the developers that I found interesting. For most players, it will become a priority to earn these achievements to unlock gear permanently. Each piece of gear will increase your stats in some way, whether it be speed, strength, magazine capacity, etc.
Every level has objectives, such as: collect an item, destroy an electric barrier, or reach the level exit. Standing in your path are hordes of human enemies wielding guns, bats and riot shields that would love to turn you into scrap metal. Leveling up earns ability points that you can use to upgrade your robot. There are passive abilities such as extra health and faster movement; or you can spend on active abilities such as mines, invincibility, or even saw-drones that circle the player and slice enemies into scrap human.
Players also need to collect cells in each level. In some ways this is more important than anything else. All of the gear you collect requires cells to equip, with typically the better gear and weapons requiring more cells. Cells are earned by destroying cars and picking up the blue cells that drop. You also are credited the cell value of any gear not destroyed at the end of the level. As you take damage you will slowly break down, piece by piece starting with the head. If your guns happen to be destroyed, you can pick up new ones laying around the level.
The graphics, sound and music are all fairly generic. Like most twin stick shooters, you play from a top-down perspective. The graphics are cel-shaded graphics that are not very detailed. Pretty much every stage takes place in the same city environment, which is a big disappointment. The music is as very plain and generic soundtrack, and it tends to repeat itself quite a bit. The sound effects are nothing spectacular but they get the job done.
I found the controls to be quite responsive and well laid out. You control your character with the left stick and aim with the right stick. Shooting is done with the left and right triggers. Manual reloading is performed with the left and right bumpers respectively as well. Active perks such as bombs or drones can be mapped to the X, Y or B buttons. There is also a transparent map that can be called up and kept on screen using the D-pad.
While I can deal with most of the issues in the game, there is one that bothers me most, friendly fire. Yes, that is right, friendly fire. As if there is not enough going on with 4 players and tons of enemies, throw avoiding friendly fire in as another thing to accomplish. You might think, well I will just disable friendly fire. Good idea, but there’s no way to turn off friendly fire. At least you can revive fallen enemies, but the option to turn friendly fire off would be nice.
Overall, Spareware is a decent twin stick shooter that is fun with buddies, just don’t shoot each other, unless they deserve it. It is available on Xbox One via the Microsoft Store for $9.99.