If I asked someone what Artificial Intelligence Police Department was they’d probably never think it would be a retro neon plastered shoot ‘em up. From the title it sounds more like a story-driven adventure set in the future, where the world is overrun by AI, and it is up to you to use police tactics to investigate and stop them. Now, although that would make a cool story, AIPD is something that doesn’t need a story but just a simple premise - one and that we’ve all seen before.
Developed by Blazing Badger, AIPD places you in a ship to take on wave upon wave of enemies, all while surrounded by a brightly coloured neon glowing arena. As you expect, the difficulty of the enemies increases the further you progress. Those who have played the likes of Geometry Wars, Beat Hazard or, heck, any type of twin stick shooters will be easily familiar with this style of game. That isn’t to say that AIPD is a straight-up clone of these games, it’s just that others have done better within the genre and AIPD is just another release in a pool full of already popularised and original shoot-em ups.
When first booted up you’ll be given the standard list of options; Play, Options, Leaderboards etc. There isn’t a tutorial per se, only a “how to play”, which is just a collection of slides showing you the controls and information about pickups, multipliers and enemies. Basic stuff, but worth having a glance through. The controls themselves are pretty simple, and like I said anyone who's played another twin stick shooter will know straight off the bat, if you haven’t, they’re simple enough: left stick to move, right to aim, right-trigger to fire, left trigger for power up, and A to use pickups. In the main game, you’ll get four different modes: Standard, Tough Transporters, Hostile Space and High-Tech Armada - all of them vary ever so slightly, feeling closer to difficulty levels than actual modes. Each mode however does have its own difficulty level, ranging from Easy to Blazing.
You can create your own mode as well, although this is basically the standard game with your own selected challenges added in. I found myself having more fun playing on my own created mode, as the selected challenges gave me a higher starting multiplier and by the end, a higher score, which allowed me to unlock modifications faster - which is short of cheating, but the resulting changes make it more difficult.
The modes themselves, like I said offer little variation. Hostile Space and High-Tech Armada, for example, add environmental dangers and fully equipped enemies respectively. Challenges are also introduced at the end of each wave, these add a bonus to your score multiplier by upping difficulty with shielded, explosive or faster enemies. These are not optional and one has to be selected to continue to the next wave, but they’re varied enough to have an impact. An example of this is a nova bomb that will explode unless collected, or an EMP which temporarily disables your weapons and shield. Superweapons and Pickups are a nice addition to the gameplay as well, because the rocket and missile Superweapons let you make short devastating attacks. Also, the pickups add bonuses to your multiplier, slow-down time or reduce heat level of your weapons (which overheat when hitting 100%, ejecting an explosive heatbomb).
Outside of gameplay and before you begin, you can customise your ship with your unlocked weapons and modifications. These are unlocked by playing and the higher your score, the faster you’ll unlock them, simple as that. Weapons range from a gatling gun, shotgun, rockets and my favourite phaser (which locks onto enemies). Modifications are your ship's armour and you can select one that’s all rounded in shield and speed, or another in favour in one or the other.
AIPD is not a bad game, it just lacks the potential to be a great game and relies on leaderboards and player customisation to keep you playing. Once you’ve unlocked everything for your ship by reaching 100,000,000 points (easily done within a couple of hours) you haven’t got much else left to do, unless you have the determination to have a place on top of the leaderboards. At £6.99, it isn’t the most expensive title, but still feels pricey for its content.
AIPD - Artificial Intelligence Police Department (Reviewed on Windows)
The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.
If you're looking for an excellent neon filled twin stick shooter with awesome techno beats, you're not going to find it here and you’d be better off playing Geometry Wars or Resogun on PS4 (if you want something more original), but if you've played them all and you want more, then get this on sale as it is still a fun title.