A.I.P.D: Artificial Intelligence Police Department has been out for a few days now, which has given me more than enough time to learn what’s so lovable about A.I.P.D, and what’s so loathsome. The gameplay itself is fairly basic and follows the twin-stick shooter format almost to the letter; no rules have been broken, but there’s also nothing particularly memorable being thrown into the mix.
As expected, you control your ship with the two analogue sticks while using the trigger buttons to activate special weapons, power-ups and the like. Again, by the book. The initial impression one could get upon jumping into the first level is that it’s very similar to another popular twin-stick shooter: Geometry Wars. There are similarities, certainly, but there’s enough variance between the two to keep players engaged with A.I.P.D.
For one, A.I.P.D has a story of sorts, though you’d be forgiven for not noticing. Another is that enemies are more than just colourful shapes that fly around randomly. Instead, enemies are given enough character that you’ll let out a groan once the bombers make an appearance for the thousandth time, and you’ll woop with joy when you realise the end level boss is one that you’ve beaten previously, but this time you’ll have better equipment, which is always handy, right? What also sets A.I.P.D apart from the crowd of twin-stick shooters is that it’s f*cking solid. Literally, it’s an extremely unforgiving game. You take damage on the first wave, you keep that damage until the end, and by end I mean your A.I.P.D ship’s death, which comes quite often during the first couple of hours of play.
Power-ups are a treat that must be savoured and not just thrown around willy-nilly. You need to take a tactical approach to each wave of enemies that you face up against else, like me, you’ll end up sitting in front of your TV in a bit of a bad mood, wondering why the game hates you and if you should start collecting stamps instead of trophies/achievements. Once you do get to grips with how A.I.P.D needs to be played, it’s a little easier, but far from a breeze. But who doesn’t like a challenge, eh?
One thing that took me by surprise was that at the end of each level you’re tasked with selecting on of two options. These aren’t as clear cut as you might have imagined though, as most of the time it’s a case of choosing the lesser of two evils; the options are almost always against you, the player. It’s a good little twist though and it does make for some interesting levels to play around in by making them that much harder. If you’re a quick thinker who doesn’t mind a challenge then you’ll be happy. If you’re a score chasing fantatic who gets a buzz from seeing your name on the top of the scoresheet then you’ll be happy to know that there’s online leaderboards. For me, this isn’t a big deal as I know I’m going to be at the bottom of the pile, weeping like a child, but for the ultra competitive it does add something extra to play for. What is pretty cool is the ability to play the game with up to four people in local multiplayer. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to give this a go, so I can’t really pass judgement on it. What I will say is that there were times when I did think to myself, “Hm, I could use a helping hand from a friendly fellow” when things got a little hairy.
A.I.P.D looks… Something. I can’t quite place my finger on it, but the general opinion with The Games Cabin is that it’s very much inspired by Disney’s Tron in terms of visual presentation. I’m a big fan of the Tron movies (even the new one!) but there’s something about the way A.I.P.D moves on the screen that makes me a wee bit uneasy. That’s just a personal opinion, mind, so while some may find the visual style a little overwhelming (there’s a lot to digest at any given moment,) others may find it to be right up their alley. For me though, it’s just not quite right with my mind, but it does at least run at a solid frame rate that hardly ever drops, or at least that’s how my aging eyes saw the game.
As far as the music, sound, and presentation go, all is pretty much standard with A.I.P.D. The electro tunes that pump viciously as you’re fighting for survival add another layer of intensity, but the variety isn’t particularly strong and you’ll soon find yourself humming the same tunes sooner rather than later. It’s not a killer, but it’s only fair to point out.
Another oddity that I found with A.I.P.D is that the menu navigation hasn’t been optimised for consoles. By that I mean you move a mouse cursor around the screen with your thumb stick. It’s peculiar, but again, it’s not a game breaking thing, just a personal annoyance that I feel the need to share.
Disclaimer: This review was carried out using the Xbox One version of the game with the code being provided by the publisher. Read more about our review policy here.