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Joystiq impressions: Assorted Sierra XBLA games

Zack Stern

Sierra recently showed off its upcoming crop of XBLA games at a media event. While a couple have promise, most could be buried by the quantity or quality of competitors. All are confirmed only for XBLA, but Sierra is considering PSN versions of most. All will be out this Summer.

Assault Heroes 2 is yet another top-down, two-player, cooperative shooter. Either sharing a screen or connecting online, players move with one control stick and fire in any direction with the other. On-foot, in land-based vehicles, or in spaceship levels, the enemies just keep coming. A few team-based super-attacks seemed interesting, and the weapon upgrades have promise. But the 3D-perspective art-design feels like the game's most unique aspect. While the fights unfold in a 2D-plane, perspective effects show enemies swooping in from overhead or from the side. It's a nice touch in a genre shooter.

Sea Life is aimed at kids, putting them in an on-rail, underwater photo-hunt. In each dive, players frame and snap pictures of ambient life. In my tour, the amount of on-screen action was limited, but I was impressed by the sharp details of shoals and fish. Some of the 60 critters only come out at certain times, so players will probably take a few sessions to complete the five areas. Your guide looks strikingly like Steve Zissou; here's hoping the legal teams let that one drift by.

Zombie Wranglers looked great in my peripheral vision before I was able to try it. The style reminded me of Jet Grind Radio's 2D-shaded, 3D world. But the gameplay seems derivative; you repetitively wander through towns, helping quell a zombie invasion. Individual characters add mild variety, with a couple different weapons. And a few end bosses are unique. But Zombie Wranglers otherwise layers a lot of monotony.

Card games on display included Gin Rummy and Lost Cities. They both allow up to four players online, but there's no split screen since you'll want to hide your hand. If you like card games but don't like cards, these could make your list. You can't just play Uno, can you?

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