XBLA – Shooting Gallery

So you’re stuck in your dorm room/apartment/house/parent’s house and you have nothing to play. You want to play a shooter but you’re sick of what you’ve got so you peruse the Xbox Live Arcade to find cheap thrills (no not like that…). But there are so many of them. Well to help you in your search for some cheap entertainment I have spent some time getting to know four of these arcade shooters and, like any good friend, I have judged them. And for your reading pleasure I have listed them in order from least favorite to favorite. Enjoy.


4. Blacklight: Tango Down

Blacklight was interesting. A dark, future set shooter with an almost Syndicate feel, Tango Down is fast paced but rather lacking. Games are hard to come by, at least in my encounter, and when you finally do find one you often don’t fill a room, taking away from the intended experience I’m sure. It’s also really hard to get started. Other players with experience will kill you swiftly, making map exploration difficult. In my first game I went three and eighteen and I consider myself to be a fairly good shooter player. Yes I improved after several games but if it’s an easy to learn and heart-pounding experience you’re looking for, I’m afraid Blacklight will only aggravate you.

There is mode called Black Ops that allows you to progress through a level with other players cooperatively but it felt a little clunky and meaningless. I didn’t dive too deep into it mainly because this article focuses primarily on the competitive aspect of these games.

I would pass on Blacklight (and its 400 Microsoft Point price tag). Lack of community is a bummer and the lack of instruction could be counterintuitive for those looking for fast thrills.


3. Gotham City Impostors

GCI, though ranked third of four on this list, really isn’t that bad. Set in Gotham during the day, when Batman goes to sleep, you play as gangs who side with either the Caped Crusader or with his adversary the Joker. With interesting modes and a pretty dynamite system of persistence, GCI is genuinely entertaining, even if it is a little jumpy. There is ample instruction for the player to utilize, even going so far as to include a series of challenges to help you master each unique skill the game has to offer (and rewarding you along the way).

Gotham City Impostors succeeds where Blacklight didn’t in its friendliness to newcomers. Yes it has a lot of weapons and gadgets to unlock but unlike most games, unlocks aren’t level restricted. When you earn a weapon unlock token you can unlock the biggest, baddest gun you want.

Also featured in Gotham City Impostors is a fun little mechanic that allows players to be “recruited” by gangs. Players can then move up ranks within their gang and help the gang win over territory by winning matches.

So grab the demo of GCI and try it out. If you dig it, grab it. It may be a whopping 1200 Microsoft Points but this one, in my opinion, is definitely worth giving a shot.


2. Monday Night Combat

Monday Night Combat, much like Monday Night football, is played like a massive sports event being held in front of thousands upon thousands of fans. A cheeky and over dramatized announcer narrates the events of each match and a mascot jumps into the arena every so often, giving players the opportunity to shoot him for money. In the end that’s what Monday Night Combat is all about, making money.

Gameplay resembles of a mix between Team Fortress and Star Wars: Battlefront. Each team has a Moneyball that the enemy wants to destroy and different classed bots that run around and attack the ball or enemy players. MNC is extremely easy to get into because each round players start at the same basic level. You can upgrade your character during the match with the money that you earn.

MNC also opens with an instruction session that shows you how to do everything, which, as you could guess, is really quite useful. MNC also calls for a level of teamwork that the past few games haven’t required. An incoherent team will almost certainly lose in Monday Night Combat, so plug in your mic and get social!

Monday Night Combat is the first game that I would say go ahead and buy. It’s fun and has a relatively active community, complete with DLC. If you are at all reluctant try the demo of course, but MNC is a good overall game.


1. Battlefield 1943

Battlefield 1943 is the granddaddy of arcade shooters. A remake of the original Battlefield 1942, 1943 is an intense experience from start to finish. Taking place in the Pacific Theater, online matches rage across the three island maps of Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, and Wake Island. Complete with planes and tanks, 1943 is the quintessential Battlefield experience seventy years removed. Fans of the franchise will feel right at home.

Unlike the weapon complexity that normally accompanies a Battlefield game (Battlefield 3 has over 60 guns!), 1943 only has three classes per team and each class comes with one primary and a pistol (12 guns total). No need to fret over which weapon to use in this game, you only get 6. This simplicity makes learning the game’s quirky weapon swap controls far easier to manage.

Complete with an awesome Air Superiority Mode (enough planes for everyone!), Battlefield 1943 is well worth its hefty 1200 Space Buck price tag. Sure there’s only three maps (four if you count the Air Superiority map), but, believe it or not, they very rarely get old. 1943 is the easy choice for best arcade shooter. The Battlefield experience for $15 that still tops Call of Duty (did I just say that?). Grab it. Play it. Love it.

So there you have it. My list of the top four (yes it’s a weird number, long story) Xbox Live Arcade shooters. I hope this helps all you instant gratification junkies out there. Now go have fun.