The Earth’s population has been decimated by a hostile alien race in the year 2051 AD. Over 7 billion humans perished during the invasion, and the entire world lay in ruin. The remaining human forces fight to liberate the planet from the alien threat, but their efforts are fleeting.
With the help of special unit BRS – a recently awakened female Black Rock Shooter – humanity has one last chance at survival. As the recently activated PRS, you must aid Phobos and his extermination squad through the war torn streets of San Francisco. Can you defeat the mechanical entities that scour the Earth?
Black Rock Shooter by developer Imageepoch offers a unique blend of arcade action and traditional turn-based combat. The concept is relatively foreign as far as role-playing games are concerned, and it’s not often that a game tries to reinvent the genre.
At its foundation, BRS resembles most role-playing games. The game world is divided into ‘zones’ that have their exits blocked by ‘Territory Boxes’. To reach the next area, the player must destroy all the enemies currently present in the zone. This process is repeated until you finally reach the end of the main level, where a ‘Territory Seal’ blocks your way. These seals are guarded by vicious, high level area bosses that must be defeated before you can move on to the next chapter. The levels are linear with little to explore, but they do contain hidden items and shortcuts to certain mission objectives.
The highlight of Black Rock Shooter is its combat system. A combination of action and turn-based strategy, the combat sequences limit the player to the foreground, while the enemies approach from the distance. The left analog stick allows you to aim PRS’ gun with no restrictions. However, you can only fire her weapon a certain number of times before the enemy advances forward. Unlike traditional turn-based games where the action pauses during the player’s turn, everything happens quite rapidly with no brief pauses to work out a strategy. This creates a feeling of urgency as your adversaries quickly approach.
The heat gauge is another feature that plays a major role during combat. As you dodge incoming attacks and retaliate with PRS’ cannon, the heat gauge fills rapidly until it incapacitates you. While in this state, PRS is frozen in place and vulnerable to attack. There are ways to prevent the gauge from overheating, but it requires a good strategy. Dodging only when it’s needed – and limiting your gun fire, but making sure every shot counts – is the most effective way of surviving an enemy encounter. While difficult to find, Cool Down kits can be used to regulate the Heat Gauge. However, these should only be used during the most dire of circumstances.
PRS also acquires new skills as she completes the many different in-game challenges available. When a new skill unlocks, you must assign it to a face button in the ‘Customize’ menu. During combat, you can access these skills by pressing and holding the Right shoulder button.
A menu appears showing which skills are available and what face buttons they are assigned to. These skills include defense, health and gun enhancements as well as passive abilities. You can cast ‘Regeneration’ to replenish your health over time, while also using ‘Defense’ to absorb damage while blocking.
Black Rock Shooter looks surprisingly good for a PSP game. Even though some of the background textures are low-res, the overall presentation is shockingly beautiful. Gamers will be impressed by the graphics; the PSP is still capable of producing high quality games despite its age.
Black Rock Shooter is a solid action role-playing game despite its unconventional approach to the genre. The story may seem a bit cliched with its, ‘save the world from an alien invasion’ premise, but the game mechanics are some of the best ever implemented in a game of this type. And while there is only 20 hours of actual gameplay, it’s just the right length without stretching the available content too far.
There is also good news for PS Vita users – the game is 100% compatible with Sony’s new handheld system. Hopefully, we will see an official PS Vita release of Black Rock Shooter in the near future. In the meantime, the world needs to be saved and seven billion people must be avenged — are you game?
Platform: PSP (Available on PSN / Compatible w/ PS Vita)
Publisher: NIS America
ESRB: T (TEEN)
|The graphics look surprisingly good for a PSP game|
|NIS America and its developers are known for the memorable soundtracks in their games and Black Rock Shooter is no exception.|
|The gameplay offers a good balance of action and strategy.|
|There is no reason not to own this game, especially if you're a fan of action and role-playing games.|