All Aboard The Dual-Stick Express!
We’ve all heard the adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” right? Well it most definitely applies to Won-O-Soft’s Danger Express – Surviving the Alien Infestation, a game that at first glance appears to be just another dual-stick shooter attempting to hitch a ride on the coattails of Minigore et al’s success. It’s not. A fact that should become apparent as soon as you load it up and are presented with a plethora of different game modes, including Story, Multiplayer, and not one, not two, but three variations on the by now obligatory survival/high-score fest.
From the outset it’s clear the developers have put a lot of effort into adding some much needed depth to the notoriously shallow shoot everything in sight and stay alive as long as possible mechanic of this type of game.
Story mode, the meat and potatoes of Danger Express, opens with a scene-setting cinematic. Cast as a cock-sure mercenary (are there any other kind?), it’s up to you to infiltrate a space-station overrun by murderous extraterrestrials and retrieve a mysterious canister from within. While the plot is the usual hackneyed excuse for some tooled-up space-man versus acid spewing alien action, that it is littered with references to classics such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and Frank Herbert’s Dune – character’s code-names include both Hal and Leto – at least shows the writers are well versed on their sci-fi opuses.
For the best part, this segment of Danger Express is a blast. If you’ve ever played a dual-stick shooter, the controls are intuitive and work well, there’s a decent amount of weaponry on offer, and the action comes thick and fast. The game’s graphics, while by no means mind-blowing, are passable and do the job well. It’s something of a disappointment then that every environment is almost identical; this series of bland, grey environments soon blurring into one as you blast your way through the game – although thankfully the monotony is broken by some enjoyable face-offs with ferocious bosses.
Also, while a story mode is most definitely a welcome addition, it’s a bit on the short side here (beatable in roughly an hour), and I can’t help but wish Won-O-Soft had taken this area of the game further, perhaps by including a few side-quests (e.g. save the survivors, hack the computer terminal, plant a bomb etc), or by putting more of an emphasis on exploration. That said, once you’ve seen all the story has to offer, there’s still plenty left to do. Because, as mentioned, Danger Express is also packing a clutch of survival modes (Time Survival, Extreme Survival, and the Pits) along with a stellar multiplayer deathmatch option.
All in all, Danger Express has the hallmarks of one of those sleeper indie hits; a game that gets bigger and better and earns more players with each update. As is, it’s an above average, if a tad workmanlike, dual-stick shooter with a well realized sci-fi theme.
iFanzine Verdict: A bit more rough around the edges than Chillingo’s dual-stick offerings, but a well executed and surprisingly fully featured game all the same. An all too brief story mode is padded out with multiplayer deathmatches and a variety of survival stages, meaning Danger Express offers a lot of playtime for the meagre 99 cent asking price. Recommended.