Developer: Firestorm Studios
Available On: XBLIG
Co-Op Mode: Local (2 players); Online and System Link (up to 8 players)
Price: 80 MS Points ($1)
Demo w/ Co-Op Available: Yes
Every now and then, you play a game that makes you stop and say, “man, so much about this experience is right, but it just falls short.” Abaddon: Retribution as a whole doesn’t fit into that category, yet its co-op modes do tend to lean a bit heavily in that particular direction.
Abaddon: Retribution is actually a sequel to another Xbox Indie game, Abaddon, which was released in January of last year. Just 8 months later, Abaddon: Retribution was released and provided some tweaks and additions to the game. Set in the distant future, an alien race has been encroaching upon human space and basically doing all the things alien races do in these types of games, i.e., attacking human vessels, looking different than us, and playing the “I’m not touching you” game with our borders/space stations. Well, enough is enough and it’s time to show these aliens that we will not tolerate their near proximity anymore!
Gameplay-wise, Abaddon: Retribution is something of an interesting mash-up between a twin-stick shooter, and a tower defense game. As you progress through the campaign, your main ship, the Abaddon, goes with you – as it’s honking big and it’s got the honking big firepower to back it up: just the kind of support you need when you’re a little spacecraft with just a few lasers/missiles to wipe out vast alien armadas. Of course, despite its firepower, it still needs some protection from all those enemy ships. So you act as the first line of defense against your foes while at the same time collecting the material they drop so you can repair the Abaddon (for a fee that steadily increases each time you do so), upgrade it’s turrets, and/or upgrade your own ship. If, at this point, your mind starts wandering to an early/mid-90s space sim that pitted you against a race of cat people, you would not be the only one.
A picture's worth a thousand words so here's a bajillion words for what the action in this game looks like
At any rate, when co-op comes into play, you might think that your partner is able to fly his own ship, make his own upgrades, and so on. However, your thinking, which only moments ago was pure brilliance, has sadly lead you down a false path. The entire campaign is limited to just two players, locally, with one player controlling the ship while the other fires the guns. To some degree, this makes sense, as having multiple players in the campaign – each with the ability to upgrade their ships/the Abaddon – would mean some time spent in pause menus “waiting for players”. Yet the one aspect that’s a little mindboggling about it all, is that there are some ships that do not support co-op at all as the guns can only be fired by the first player. In other words, if you want to play around with all of the ships and weapons in the game, you can’t do it with a friend. As some measure of pittance for this faux pas, there are a couple of co-op modes that support multiple players, such as Survival and Assault, so at the very least Abaddon: Retribution does make for a pretty entertaining co-op couples game. (Essentially, 4 different Xbox systems may connect, with 2 local partners on each system for a total of 8 players)
It’s hard to deny Abaddon: Retribution has a few shortcomings when it comes to the co-op department. However, the gameplay elements do make up for some of those shortcomings, and, let’s be honest, some of our fondest co-op memories are those moments when one person’s driving, and the other person’s manning the guns…
Abaddon: Retribution is For: Twin-stick shooter and tower defense fans; some mild RPG elements are at play as well with the ship upgrade system
The Co-Op Experience: One player steers the ship and activates its special abilities, while the second player mans the guns and shoots anything that moves (and probably some things that don’t); multiplayer modes allow for multiple ships at once