At first glance, it appeared that Ion Assault supported four players in co-op, but alas this is not the case. The campaign is limited to two players; I eventually saw this as a good thing. With so many particles bouncing around and obstacles filling the screen, even just two players can make the screen so busy that it makes Geometry Wars look like a funeral service. Well...not really to that extreme, but you get the point: it can get hectic. The pace of the game would be well-suited to four players, but the premise is not. It's possible that Coreplay could have extended the size of the "sector" to accommodate more players, but that's pure speculation, and with physics this complicated I'm not so sure that the technical changes would be that simple. There is a versus mode that supports 4 players; perhaps axing that would have left more resources for better co-op.
And to be honest, the versus modes are anything but engaging...despite being somewhat original. In Arena -- the most interesting to me of the three modes available -- players swap their gravity cores for an actual gun, something akin to a laser. A large asteroid sits at the center of the sector, and players each have a base that revolves around it in clockwise fashion -- the object of the match is to protect your base while destroying the others. You can set a marker at any point, and your base will fire drones in that direction; once they reach the marker, the drones will veer toward the nearest enemy base. It's a simple way to channel them around the center asteroid, but unique in that you choose the path that they take. Of course, all players have the ability to destroy them mid-vector, which makes the drones both deadly to bases and vulnerable to players. It's well-balanced and simple enough to be fun...but with only leaderboards and a such a simple premise, I found myself drawn back to the campaign.
For 800 MS Points, Ion Assault offers more than many Arcade games. It has some degree of innovation combined with the timeless gameplay of a classic like Asteroids. If you like games that are easy to control and dazzle your eyes, then you may want to check this out. You can get a good three or four hours of solid entertainment out of this game with the campaign alone, and it's great for couch co-op.
The Co-Op Experience: Play the campaign with a friend in Co-op mode.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.