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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sift Heads 5 - Game of the Day

What is it?Sift Heads 5 is the latest shooter-adventure game chronicling the assassination-based escapades of Vinnie the freelance hitman.

Who made it? – The game was developed by Chriss Martin of Pyrozen.

How does it play? – Similar to the Hitstick series, you’ll point-and-click to navigate the various environments, talk to characters, and shoot them dead. Missions can be attempted in a somewhat non-linear fashion, though specific tasks will unlock new locations. Many missions are optional, and there are even a few collection-based objectives to tackle.

If you’re in a sniping position, your perspective becomes first-person for aiming and shooting; however, Vinnie can also enter “shooting mode” at any time by pressing the spacebar. Cash can be used to customize Vinnie’s appearance, or to purchase new weapons and ammunition. You can also save your game between missions.

Presentation – The grayscale art (with the occasional splash of red) is striking, and the quality animation is on par with previous games in the series – stylishly cool, with some cinematic moments to keep you engrossed in the story. The writing is average (though true to the series), and if you’re squeamish when it comes to stick figures getting shot in the head, it may not be the game for you.

Positives – The combination of shooting, adventuring, and collecting makes for a surprisingly compelling game. Non-linearity is also a rarity for Flash shooters, and while you’ll really just be choosing from a handful of missions at any given time, deciding what to do next is fun. As usual, the music kicks butt.

Negatives – I encountered a couple of show-stopping bugs during my first playthrough, and a money exploit. During “Risk of the Trade,” I was able to complete the mission, save the game, complete the mission again, save, etc., which basically resulted in an infinite cash loop. The mission “More Red than Grey” would not end once finished, and reloading my save game didn’t solve the problem. I had to restart from the beginning, but the bug didn’t resurface the next time I played.

Why you should play it – Despite some bugs, Sift Heads 5 is a cool and violent diversion through Chicago’s seedy underworld. It’s always refreshing to play a shooter that has more to it than whaling on the fire button. Sift Heads 5 deftly folds adventure elements into the mix, and provides a medium-sized challenge to virtual “sifters” everywhere.

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