Published on May 24th, 2011 | by Derek Strickland, Contributor
The Last Pod Fighter XBLIG Review
Platform: Xbox LIVE Arcade
Price: 80 MSP ($1)
Developer: Fighter 9 Games
The Last Pod Fighter is a 3D space shooter Xbox Indie that uses aspects seen in classic shmup titles along with a few original elements. Developed by a group of students in the University of Utah known as Fighter 9 for a game dev project. The game itself features decent graphics, an authentic space shooter experience, and two different game modes for players to enjoy.
Gameplay mechanics for this game are reminiscent of many space shmup titles out there: your basic third-person view with dual-stick controls and requires dexterity and focus to gun down enemies in dogfights amongst the stars. Collect power-ups for unique “pods”, each of which having different in-game affects that can harm enemies and fortify the spaceship.
There is an expansive HUD interface that has many useful tools and on-screen meters that bring a sense of retro space shooter gaming. These interfaces are angled and look as if they are really part of the ship’s controls, immersing players into gameplay. There is a shield meter, a powerful integrated Radar system, a pod meter displaying all the current pods available, and a score counter on the lower left.
Controls for this game are easy to use once players realize that the left stick is used primarily in battle, and the right analog stick makes the ship dive up or down, depending on which direction it’s pressed. The axes themselves are inverted, and players must aim with the left analog stick as well. The targeting reticule is dynamic and tracks enemies quite well, aiding players in battle. There is even a way to see behind the player’s ship by pressing in the right analog stick, and this is useful when using in tandem with the rear radar.
Players must make use of different evasive maneuvers and techniques while in battle or they’ll risk being overwhelmed by excessive enemy fire. Pressing RB and LB will allow players to do barrel rolls which are useful when trying to avoid getting shot. The right analog stick is also useful, as when moving it up or down players dive and evade enemy attacks. Another useful tactic is to press in the left analog stick to instantly target an enemy that the player is facing.
In The Last Pod Fighter there are four different pods, or abilities, that ships can use during gameplay. When enemies are destroyed they sometimes drop different colored power-ups, each color denoting a different ability. These abilities correspond with the four face buttons on the X360 controller–X (blue), A (green), B (Red), and Y (yellow)–and each ability can affect the player positively or the enemy negatively.
There are actually six different pod types, but the four main ones correspond with the face buttons: Engine Pods (green) affect speed, Shield Pods (blue) fortify shields, Tactical Pods like Gravity, Immobilze, and Nuke Pods are quite destructive and useful (yellow). Each of these pods can be used effectively in-battle to destroy waves upon waves of enemy fighters.
The Last Pod Fighter has a few unique features such as two different modes of play: survival mode, which is quite difficult and pits the player against a barrage of incoming enemy fighters and is quite overwhelming, and the Arcade mode where players take the standard gaming experience that gets progressively harder, akin to story mode in most games.
The control scheme is another unique element in that it is quite original and fluid, yet at first it may be a bit hard to get used to. Once mastered, however, players will be shooting down dozens of enemies in ship-to-ship dogfights and utilizing dynamic pods without being phased. Using barrel rolls, evasive measures, and well-planned dives, players can become nearly impossible to hit by enemies.
Fighting massive bosses like carriers and freighters is another enjoyable element in this game: players must fight boss ships at the end of some levels, and many times the ships themselves are quite difficult. Players must annihilate the accompanying waves of enemies to gain pod power-ups in strategic ways in order to eliminate the huge enemy bosses.
Final Truth: Overall The Last Pod Fighter is a fun and enjoyable Xbox Indie space-shmup title, and incorporates classic elements like the HUD interface with original aspects such as the unique control system. Set in a dynamic 3-D space environment with stars, nebulae and alluring celestial bodies, this game immerses players in a space shooting experience that is challenging and entertaining.
+ Fluid Controls
+Unique Pod Abilities
+ Classic Shmup Mechanics
– Challenging and Difficult
– Enemy Waves can be Overwhelming