While there aren’t a ton of twin-stick shooter games available for the PlayStation 4, developer Blazing Badger is attempting to make their mark in this genre with AIPD (short for Artificial Intelligence Police Department). With an ever-increasing stack of challenges for the player to overcome, does this shooter have enough to differentiate itself from other games, such as Super Stardust Ultra?
AIPD apparently has a storyline, though you’d hardly know that from playing it. Story is rarely the focus of any game in this genre, so all you need to know is that you need to blast the evil artificial intelligence that you encounter from your spaceship. Basically, shoot everything that moves, and avoid death for as long as possible. You’ll face many waves of enemies, and even the occasional boss. There’s four difficulty levels to choose from, which appear to affect how much damage your ship can take before it is destroyed.
Controls are similar to other twin-stick shooters. You move with the left analog stick, aim with the right, and fire your main weapon by pulling the R2 trigger. L2 will engage your super weapon, if one is available. R3 or X will activate powerups, such as shields, also if available. You cannot fire indefinitely, as a heat gauge to the right of your ship will fill up with repeated firing of a weapon, eventually culminating in your ship firing off a heat bomb in order to dissipate said heat. Like everything other than your ship that moves, this bomb can deal damage to you if you’re too close. As you play the game and rack up a large lifetime score, you will unlock new weapons, as well as new ship abilities to combine with those weapons. My favorite quickly became the Phaser, which automatically fired at enemies within its range, with the Radiator ability, which enabled a slower build-up of heat. After a little experimenting with the combinations, you’ll likely find one that you are particularly fond of, and stick with it.
You vs. the World
AIPD‘s main gimmick is an ever-stacking list of challenges that the game throws at you. In the most basic of its five game modes, between waves of enemies you are presented with two random challenges to choose from, which will affect every successive wave of enemies from that point forward. Challenges can vary from slowing your ship down whenever you’re carrying a powerup, to asteroids occasionally running through the arena, and various upgrades to the enemies’ abilities. It should be noted that there are never any health pickups, nor challenges that make the game any easier for the player. Enemies just continue to become faster, more numerous, and more capable the longer you play.
By the time your ship explodes, the game will be so frantic that it’ll be hard to keep up with. Running the Unreal Engine 4, AIPD maintains a consistent 60 frames per second, and often displays hundreds of enemies and effects simultaneously. Visuals are crisp and neon-themed — AIPD wouldn’t look too out of place in a TRON movie. The PS4 runs the game without issue, with a booming soundtrack to boot. Clearing waves has a particularly nice, bassy sound effect, and you can find yourself in a nice rhythm if you play with headphones. As an odd side note, the in-game menus are driven by a mouse that you control with an analog stick.
Choose Your Challenges
One unique mode within AIPD includes the ability to create custom game modes, saving up to three different variants. You can turn any number of challenges on for extra multiplier bonuses from the start of the game. This also includes the extreme option of turning on every single challenge that the game has to offer. With every challenge turned on, your ship simply waits around for a second or two between waves and takes off into the next one, with nothing more for you to choose from. It would have been novel to include stacking challenges that are already enabled, such as selecting faster drones to make for enemies that are even faster than before, shielded enemies that have dual shields, or other such ideas. As it stands now, once a challenge is enabled it will not be available again for the duration of your game.
AIPD is a competent twin-stick shooter that lacks true depth. Local cooperative play is always appreciated, however, and the inclusion of such a rare feature is something that newly-minted developer Blazing Badger absolutely deserves commendation for. But with only one level layout, gameplay can become repetitive fairly quickly. You’ll have seen everything the game has to offer in one session, easily. Mixing up guns with ship abilities helps to add some variety, but at the end of the day only twin-stick shooter fanatics will find AIPD truly worth their time and money.
AIPD review code provided by publisher. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy here.