Note: I played on PC (with a bit of iOS here and there), and only with the "Ultra" DLC already installed.
The game is also available on PSN and XBLA. Beat Hazard is quite the unique game. I'd like to call it an music-based arena shooter, but that just doesn't really seem right for what it is, so I'll just call it "one of those music games, but different".
When you first start playing, you're greeted with a warning about photosensitivity in this game. Now, I highly doubt anyone with epilepsy or a sensitive to flashing lights and colors would even buy this game, but the warning IS there, and it certainly does its job well. You have to actually confirm that you want to continue, which is good because once you do, you're sent to the menu screen. On that menu screen is many flashing lights and colors, and they all change in time to the background music, which is one of the many songs that comes with the game.
From there, your basic options are Singleplayer, Two-player, Online Play, Manage Perks, Ranks & Stats, Achievements, Leaderboards, and Options. Within Singleplayer are multiple game modes: Standard Mode, Survival Mode, Boss Rush, and Chill Out. I did not play Chill Out so that won't be covered in this review. Upon choosing Standard Mode (the game's main mode basically) you are greeted with some options for your game, and your song selection screen. Beat Hazard does come with multiple songs to start off with if you just want to try the game out or don't have songs in your collection, but the main bulk of content in this game is the songs that you have, not the game's songs. In your game options section you can pick the intensity of the colors and lights that appear on screen. I can barely manage 100% intensity without dying (as there's too many things on screen at once for me to keep track of), so almost every time I played I chose 50% intensity.
Now, on to the game! Depending on what perks you have, you may get different things at the start. Some give you missiles to fire, some lasers, and others extra lives even. I like to play with the laser, extra lives, and extra multiplier perks, so I had all of those at the start. Enemies fly at you usually slowly at the start of the song, and progressively get faster and in greater numbers as the song gets more and more intense. Occasionally the game will throw a boss or two at you, and often enemies won't appear while the boss is around, which is nice. Some of the bosses can be pretty tough, but they're manageable once you get their tactics down. Powerups also appear and you may collect these to get more lasers, shields, a higher multiplier, more cash to buy perks, or missiles. It might seem like forever or barely anything depending on how long your song is and what type of genre it is.
And that's where the game might be a little lacking.
It seems to me that the game does an excellent job with providing a challenging and fun experience when you play a more fast-paced song, like a rock or techno song, but if you play something more slower and relaxed like say, trance or jazz, the game barely gives you anything to challenge yourself with and thus the game becomes too easy. The majority of players of Beat Hazard probably do play faster-paced songs, but that minority of slower-paced players are left out of the game's fun, which is the challenge of trying to survive.
Okay, well that's a bit bad, but the rest of the game is great I assure you! Survival Mode lets you try to last as long as you can, and it sure can get hectic having no lives left while trying to beat a friend's score. This was actually one of the parts of the game that I played the most just because it was so fun. The Boss Rush game mode is also pretty fun. It pits you against an increasing quantity and difficulty of bosses, and if you aren't able to beat the boss(es) you're up against in a round, you have to finish them off while another boss (or two) tackles you as well. It's not as fun as the other modes in my opinon, but it works decently for what it does.
The Two-Player mode works very well. Co-op on one screen works fantastic whether you are sitting next to someone or doing it online. Even when playing with a guy from Romania (I live in the USA), I was able to get little to no lag because the game's online connection works so well. The one complaint I have about co-op is that there is no option to change the difficulty. It's a bit of a doozy being forced to play on hardcore even when both you and your partner suck at the game.
I also want to add that there is a head to head mode that I saw, though I didn't touch it because my co-op partner only wanted to play with me, not against me, and when I looked for public servers I saw none.
Technically speaking, there are little to no flaws in Beat Hazard. The sound and picture quality both sound and look great respectively, and the game runs great on my older laptop. There were no errors anywhere I could find in the Singleplayer mode, though while playing online there were two bugs/glitches that happened to me. I assume they were only because of the high ping I had when playing at a place with a bad internet connection though, so otherwise the game is fine in the technical aspect.
Graphically, Beat Hazard is a game that impresses for sure. The flashing lights and many moving shapes may take some time to get used to, but after a while, it just seems to flow together very smoothly. You'll notice that the color transitions just effortlessly blend with the game and can be very pretty sometimes even. Perhaps it's just personal preference, but I very much so liked Beat Hazard's graphics.
Overall, Beat Hazard is a game that I really did enjoy playing. It's one of the better music-based games in my opinion, and definitely deals with the concept of having music power your game in an interesting way. The multiple modes, perks you have to progressively unlock with money that you earn in-game, leaderboards, 47 achievements, and most importantly, an unlimited number of songs you can choose, allow the game to have a lasting amount of content that certainly won't dissapoint. There are a few flaws and even two bugs I encountered while playing online, but the game is well worth your $10, especially if you can get it for even less (although paying more always helps out a game developer perhaps struggling to pay the bills )
I give this game a: 8/10