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Abaddon: Retribution Review
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Abaddon: Retribution is billed as a tower-defense game, but to me, at least, it plays like a twin stick shooter. I suppose if you wanted to get truly technical, Abaddon is actually both at the same time, which is a very good thing, especially when it is two genres so easy to pick-up-and-play with a friend.

The “Tower Defense” mechanics for this game come from the capital ship Abaddon requiring upgrades to its failed defense system – the ship has multiple hardpoints for weapons that need to be upgraded (starting from a “broken machinegun” to beam weaponry and rockets) to better defend itself. The object to defend is Abaddon itself, so buffing up its natural capabilities only helps prolong your battle.

The Twin Stick Shooter aspect comes from your fighter ship – you fly around Abaddon with your own set of guns, protecting your homeship and hunting down other enemy ships. Much like Abaddon, your ship can be upgraded as well, either in shape (with multiple ship designs, AND multiple ship upgrades, there is a fair amount of diversity) or in damage output (you have a choice as to what front-mounted weaponry you want, and the type of turret you want on your ship). If all this customization still isn’t enough for you, there is a reward system in place for completing missions, which drop equippable “power orbs” to further optimize and customize your ship. Obviously, there is a lot of room for customization in here. Coupled with the fact that Abaddon can be repaired at an ever-increasing cost, the game can quickly become a mix of twin-stick shooting aggression, and conservative resource-management to defend your “tower”.

The game can be played single-player, going through individual missions, but the gameplay is really meant to be played online – up to four consoles can link up online, providing chaotic and rewarding skirmishes as everyone works together to topple their highscores. While four consoles can link up, technically that means eight players can play – a second player can operate the turrets on your ship (not your capital ship, Abaddon, though that would be awesome if they could). The feature is appreciated, but sadly, it is hardly an enjoyable experience for the second player; it is a shame that they could not control either Abaddon’s guns, or an entirely new fighter.

Ultimately, the game is a very enjoyable hybrid of two very traditionally successful genres. Firestorm Studios has managed to make a solid addition to XBLIG, and has expressed interest in continuing to support their game. Will this mean more upgrades, more gameplay modes, or even bigger, ultramassive space battles? Only time will tell, but I know that I’m enjoying the ride so far.

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