It is now 2016 and Tomorrow’s World had us all believing that we would be eating meals in tablet form as well as driving flying cars. That’s clearly not happening any time soon, but what will our future be like? Blazing Badger have given us a glimpse of it with their top-down twin-stick shooter Artificial Intelligence Police Department aka AIPD.
The original release trailer for AIPD told us of a “digital world in 2144 that is dominated by cyber crime with the Artificial Intelligence Police Department being the last bastion preventing the world from plunging into total chaos”. It is your role as an AIPD officer to fight daily battle in cyberspace. This plot, however, seems to be M.I.A because as soon as you fire it up, select the mode you want to play, pick your weapon and modification you’re off. That missing plot doesn’t matter, though; it’s a twin-stick shooter, after all, so we all know the drill – shoot everything!
There are two types of enemies for you to destroy in AIPD. Red enemies are weaponless and move around the arena trying to attack you (some of these will drop super weapons if you kill them before they leave the arena). Violet enemies have weapons that can disable your primary weapons or fire massive laser beams at you. There’s the familiar controller set-up that twin-stick shmups use; Left stick moves the ship around the screen, right stick aims the weapon (pressing it also activates any pickups), R2 fires the primary weapon and L2 fires the super weapon.
What makes AIPD stand out from the crowd is the way you are presented with two modules after you have successfully cleared a wave. These modules are all quite varied ranging from increasing enemies’ speed, deploying bombs (which must be deactivated) to shrinking the playing field and decreasing your multiplier. Each module comes with a reward in the form of a score multiplier but there is a trade off – do you want to choose the easier module with the lower multiplier to try and make it to the boss on wave fifteen or do you go for glory and a high score with the harder module. I tended to opt for the latter and with good reason – to unlock more weapons and modifications.
When you begin AIPD you only have one weapon and one mod at your disposal, but as you progress more become available. This is because each time you play, regardless of mode, your score is added to your career total and when you hit a target score you unlock another mod or weapon. There are a total of six weapons and modifications, and they unlock fairly quickly so it won’t be long before your ship is equipped with lasers – by far the best weapon in the game.
Gaming by design
AIPD has four basic game modes and you can also design your own mode in the aptly named Design tab. Here you can tinker and tailor the game in any way you see fit by selecting any combinations of the twenty four modules. AIPD has global leaderboards, four-player local co-op, and four difficulty levels depending on your experience: Easy, medium, hard and blazing.
As for the visuals and sounds AIPD has taken a bubble bath full of 80s neon art style, dried itself off with a Geometry Wars towel, then put on its Tron underpants while listening to some techno tunes. There are some really nice touches to look out for such as the way the amount of ammo left on your super weapon is displayed on the ship.
AIPD proves you don’t necessarily need a story behind a great twin-stick shooter. There is more than enough in this game to make you want to come back and beat your high score. It is great in short bursts but also, due to how you choose the modules in the main game modes or how you can create your own game in the design mode, it’s perfect for longer gaming sessions. AIPD is as smooth and slick as any of its Shmup predecessors.
NelMaNo Rating – 7.5/10