Platform: PC (tested), PS4, Xbox One
Released: July 2018
Tempest 4000 is an arcade classic shoot em up that is absolutely superb to play and should be a complete no-brainer to recommend. It should… if you don’t already own TxK.
The Tempest series is unique and morish. You control a shooting plane that fires bullets down geometric shapes that are always in tubes. The enemies you fight against climb up the walls of these tubes and your bullets go down them. It’s like a hyperactive lane defence game with lots of arcade graphical flair. Each level makes you collect powerups to upgrade your plane from scratch to have more powerful weapons, AI droids and a jump button that lets you leap over enemies should they breach your walls and start circling the perimeter that you’re stuck to. It’s fast, frenzied and an absolute blast and the perfect example of arcade adrenaline. When playing the game you are so focused on what’s going on – everything around you zones out. It is poetry in motion sometimes and that has to be commended.
Llamasoft has released Tempest inspired games before since their developer Jeff Minter created the series, but Atari has the naming rights. Space Giraffe was a cutesy take on the lane shooting formula, mixing it with Pang to a point, whilst TxK was essentially a Tempest game through and through – updating the graphics and making the controls silky smooth. Now Jeff Minter and Atari have come back together Tempest 4000 is the natural new heir to the throne but despite it being the prettiest and most fluid game of the series to date – I’m disappointed.
The levels are directly taken from TxK, so are the powerups, so are the weapons and so is the flying through stars sections between levels. More colour? Yes. Worth another £19? Absolutely not. Aside from the 100 level main mode, there is a different soundtrack and 4k mode if you like it (no VR mode though which is strange since Polybius had it) – but a name does not justify a price hike from the still completely fantastic TxK on the PS Vita that’s £5.79 – to Tempest 4000 which is £24.99. Even the recent Polybius which is similar is £9.99 – is that how much a licence costs?
A copy of the game was provided by the developer for review.
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