Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Minor Change in Direction

I'm well aware that I've been doing a lot of faith-focused posts recently, including quite a bit of heavy theology. While I'm not ashamed of this and truly enjoy writing about God, I never intended this blog to be about any one thing--hence the hodgepodge of objects in the header image.

So, to break from this tradition I'm going to shamelessly plug a cool computer game! Specifically, Audiosurf. It resembles a cross between hyper-fast futuristic racing series F-Zero and an earlier indie game, Synaesthete. Unlike Synaesthete, Audiosurf is not free (the full version costs $10), but it's well worth the modest price.

Playing some DragonForce should be anyone's first reaction to this game.
The big draw of Audiosurf is, of course, its ability to dynamically generate tracks by analyzing any song you select. The result is that you can literally play (as a game) your favorite music. Colored blocks come at you in time with the beat, and when the music gets louder or faster the track changes to hotter colors and everything speeds up. Calm, acoustic music is largely an uphill climb in blues and purples, while intense metal becomes a frenetic downhill of orange and red. The track bobs up and down to the ebb and flow of the music, various cool visual effects sync up to it, and the thrill you get just before the start of a steep section is similar to being on a roller coaster.

The gameplay has two main modes. In Mono (pictured above) you simply ride the track, picking up colored blocks and avoiding gray ones. Matching colored blocks gets you points--bigger matches equal more points. On the easiest difficulty it's pretty laid back, but on Ninja the track is congested with gray blocks you have to avoid, a tough test of reflexes and precise control. The other main mode has no grey blocks, but multiple colors of blocks that must be grouped together to form matches as well as some special powerups. There are five different "characters" (game modes) to play which all give you special abilities like storing blocks and dropping them at will, erasing everything of a certain color, or controlling two cars at once. This mode is more cerebral and making complicated matches requires some strategy. These modes provide some variation to the gameplay, but mostly this game's replay value is limited by your music library--finding songs that will translate to exciting and varied tracks is a fun challenge.

The graphics are fairly simple by modern standards, but fully 3-D and undeniably pretty. The tracks are laid out as winding, multicolored ribbons that stretch out ahead of you for virtual miles. The ability to plug your own music into the game and experience it rather than just listen to it raises Audiosurf a step up above the sea of music games that have been popping up in the wake of DDR and Guitar Hero and makes it well worth checking out, if only the demo version. Definitely recommended for music and puzzle game lovers.

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