POD Review

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Graphics: 8.0
Sound : 9.0
Gameplay : 9.5
Multiplayer : N/A
Overall : 8.8
Review by Kurt Knudsen
POD is an incredibly addictive old school top-down shooter with a lot of twists. You control a spherical ship sent down to the ‘Power Grid’ to stop an onslaught of alien attacks. Your ship, though powerful via gained weapon upgrades, smart bombs, and shields is not invulnerable—if you get hit just once, twice with a shield, then you are swiftly dead. There are 100 insanely fast-paced levels in the game, each of which lasts perhaps 15 seconds or so. While that might not seem like a long time, the action never stops, and if you die the time starts all over again—and you lose all gathered weapon upgrades.

Getting the weapon upgrades isn’t as easy as one would think. Constant waves of alien attacks mean you need to be very careful where you go. If the ‘grid’ is broken at a certain point, then you cannot cross it unless you obtain the hover ability. The smart bomb destroys everything on the screen at once and will save your life countless times.

Each wave consists of five levels and a bonus level. Every time you earn 100,000 points you gain an extra life, but later on in the game more lives mean very little because it’s so difficult to stay alive. Each level in a wave adds more enemies, and each enemy has a unique way to attack. Some will shoot bullets, some will track you, some will drop down at your position, and others simply crowd the to confuse your bearings. When you continue your game you can start at the beginning of any wave you’ve started or completed. But when restarting the game, you have only the most basic weapon, along with a single smart bomb and only a few lives—what you had when you quit the game previously is irrelevant.

The game’s aesthetics have a futuristic touch—as though the game were based inside a computer—and the graphic standard in POD is excellent throughout, truly showcasing what the new Gizmondo handheld can do. All colors are sharp and vibrant, explosions create debris that floats around for a short while, the ‘grid’ shines and glows as you maneuver over it, and the animations are always fluid and flawless. With the insane amount of enemies on screen at any given time, and all of the bullets flying around, it’s amazing that the game doesn’t show any signs of slow down or chop.

The music in POD emerges as fast and catchy. It helps get you into the mood for playing such a fast-paced game and doesn’t let up. During the action you’ll hear a voice counting down the allocated level seconds, and when it reaches 5 this adds to the anticipation of beating the level while not dying at the last second—which happens often.

A word of gameplay caution: if you were to play POD up to level 41 and then quit, it is perhaps wisest to restart at a lower level to build up your smart bombs and weapons. If you were to restart later at level 41 it’d be almost impossible to beat that level’s wave with the limited weapon power given to you at the start. Because of this slight penalty, the game will last a considerable time and take quite an effort to overcome all of its 100 levels.

POD is definitely a title you have to have. It’s addictive, it kills masses of time, and it’s crammed full with near-relentless fun. The graphics are outstanding, the music is awesome, and it’s a game that will have you coming back for more again, and again, and again!