Plain Sight

With the advent of digital distribution platforms, such as _Xbox Live Arcade_, the _Playstation Network_ and _Steam_, an entire new sector of the games industry has truly been able to flourish. This is of course “indie” titles or games that offer smaller, and usually more outlandish, gameplay experiences for a fraction of the cost of a full, brick and mortar retail game. While some fantastic games have been released through these digital platforms, such as _Geometry Wars_ and _Trials_, the market has become saturated; mainly due to each of the aforementioned platforms pumping out multiple titles each week, varying hugely both in quality and price. This means that the experience offered by one of these “indie” titles has to be truly unique to stand out in the sea of hundreds of games all trying to out-indie each other. _Plain Sight_ is one of these exceptions, offering gameplay mechanics and an art style that you’ll have never seen before.

_Plain Sight_ is a 3rd person, multiplayer only experience where you control a sword wielding robot through a range of three dimensional maps. The main aim is to kill the other players, stealing their energy and combining it with your own. The twist is that once you’ve gained any amount of energy it doesn’t go toward your score until you detonate yourself. _Plain Sight_ is therefore a balancing act between continuing to fight, with the prospect of losing all the energy you’ve gained, and detonating yourself, banking your energy but having to wait to respawn.

What truly sets _Plain Sight_ apart is where the combat takes place. Rather than battling it out across flat landscapes with a few raised areas here-and-there, the game takes place in what is effectively space, filled with a variety of planetoids that all exert their own gravity on the player. The maps have no distinct up and down meaning threats can come from above or below in addition to the more traditional left and right directions. Luckily the game equips the player with a few agile methods of getting around; there’s a substantial jump and a dash move which give you enough control to get from one floating object to the next. With a unique premise and an environment like no other, _Plain Sight_ does take a while to get used to. Luckily, once you’re comfortable with the controls, it becomes a joy to play.

For an “indie” title, _Plain Sight_ also offers a considerable amount of game modes. In addition to the standard deathmatch and capture the flag modes found in the majority of multiplayer experiences, there’s the more unusual Ninja! Ninja! Ninja! Robozilla!, where multiple robots unite to defeat one giant Robozilla, and Lighten Up, where the biggest detonation on the target area wins the points for the round. With the exception of the capture the flag mode, these are all extremely entertaining, with each mode offering something that the others don’t. Combined with an upgrade system, which gives your little robot advantages such as a shield, a greater jump or a quicker detonation time, _Plain Sight_ has a lot going for it. Unfortunately this upgrade system resets at the end of each match; it would have been nice to see a persistent system, à la _Modern Warfare 2_, to give the game a bit more longevity.

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In terms of presentation, while not graphically astounding, _Plain Sight_ definitely gets five stars for style. The environments themselves are extremely clean, with plain textures and clear-cut lines, which complements the robots and their distinctive light trails well. It’s a good job that the game doesn’t have any unnecessary graphical trimmings as, once a match gets going, it’s busy enough as it is!

_Plain Sight_ doesn’t offer a huge amount of content and it can be extremely difficult at first, as you get used to both the gameplay and the environment, but in the long run it’s a lot of fun. It’s also extremely addictive with hours of your life quickly disappearing, something that isn’t great when exams are rapidly approaching. It also looks like Beatnik Games are going to continue to support the _Plain Sight_ after release, with an additional map already being added through a mandatory patch. If they continue to add new maps and features, _Plain Sight_ will definitely have legs. While it might be slightly overpriced at £8, it’s the sort of quick-to-play experience that fits in perfectly around revision. When you need something to break up the monotony of past exam papers and old lecture notes, what’s better than killing robots with flaming swords?


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