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The XBLA seems to be becoming the home of several good shmup titles. Released in January of 2008, Omega Five could be one of the forgotten gems of the XBLA service.   The graphics are top-notch, and easily stand as one of the best looking games of the entire XBLA lineup.   The screenshots below show how nice it looks, but in action it is that much better.   Just check out Tempest's default weapon when you start, and enjoy it.   At it's core, it's a simple scrolling shooter with 2D gameplay and 3D graphics.   But the look is incredible, and the difficulty is.. well, it's up there.   You have 360 degree control of fire and your character- the left mushroom will control your movement, and the right mushroom will control your fire.   The speed of the game is fairly slow compared to games like Scramble and Lifeforce, and it feels like all you needed to survive a barrage was a little more speed, so it definitely is annoying at times. 

The main characters at the start of Omega Five are a muscular and monsterous character named Tempest and the semi-scantily clad RubySensei with his warrior dog, Rikimaru, are unlockable characters, along with R.A.D., another female character.   I haven't unlocked any of the unlockables, as I haven't beaten the game yet.   But I hope to have that done sometime, and I've owned the game since its release.  That's over 1 1/2 years.

Like most games in the genre, you can power up your player with stronger and better weapons and shields.   The different weapon you will be equipped with in Omega Five that is unique is a grapple, Ruby has a hook, while Tempest has a red energy spheroid.  They both fly out, hold onto enemies (Ruby) or guides your fire (Tempest), and destroy the targets.   It is necessary to use the grapple in some battles, one being the mid and final boss (the same boss) in Level One.   Your grapple has to hold onto the head of the boss to enable you to do some damage to it.  There are 4 levels to deal with, and it will probably take you awhile before you beat the game and unlock everything.

The levels are very difficult, but you are given the weapons to get through those levels, that is, if you don't die.  Which you will do often.  You get continues as you play through the game, but you only have one life per game with a health bar that takes a lot of damage off no matter what hits you. You can see some of your deaths coming, and it's almost like you're watching it happen slow motion.  Or watching a horror movie where the girl goes into the haunted house with the serial killer running loose.  "No don't go in there you stupid moron!  Oh forget it, it's over.  Game over.."

There are other shmups that have come to the 360 and the XBLA, among them Ikaruga, Triggerheart Exelica, and Raiden Fighters Aces, but you owe it to yourself as a shmup fan to download Omega Five and check it out.   It's style is amazing, the gameplay is easy enough to pick up, and it's just frustrating enough to have you come back and try it again.   But that's what a shmup is!


Omega Five is definitely a recommended title from us at The World, just don't blame us if you suck.

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