Winter!: Prepare for holiday gaming!
Beat Hazard is a game that doesn't look amazing at first sight, but only gets better after spending a few hours in it.
This is a review of the complete version which is Beat Hazard + Beat Hazard Ultra, I don't know what Ultra adds because I've never played the classic version.
Other than some flashing lights and the power of your weapons, it's not too obvious how the music affects the game. Even a slow & quiet song can look similar to a fast & loud song at first glance, which also makes the difficulty of a song very unpredictable.
But this does not mean that the music has little effect on the levels. Instead of simply loudness or speed, the game looks at all kinds of variations that happen throughout the song and uses this to trigger different amounts and types of enemies, including big boss fights.
There is a nice variety of enemies, enough to keep the game fun but any more and it might get a little complicated for a game that requires fast reactions from the player.
As for the weapons, maybe one or two more would have been a nice addition. You start out with your basic unlimited rapid fire weapon and some superbombs, then still have a shield, laser and homing missiles to unlock.
You can pick up money during your battles and spend this on buying or upgrading perks. There are quite some and they vary from things like an extra weapon to extra points.
You can only use a limited amount of them at the same time, which adds a little more strategy to the game. Loading up on lives and weapons will help you survive but will not help your score up, so if you want a high score you'll have to find a balance between getting enough score perks and what you'll need to still survive.
Now for some negative points of the game:
First of all, in single player it feels like there's a bit of lag, like every key you press has a tiny delay. Now in multiplayer there's often a ton of lag, a ping of over 250ms seems pretty common and in bad cases it can reach over 1000ms.
Secondly, there's the way you browse for music. There's no search function so if you have a lot of songs there will be a lot of scrolling. It does show the folders you have them in, so at least it helps if you organized your music in lots of folders.
For multiplayer all songs need to be indexed first which can take over half an hour for large collections. And if you alt-tab out the game it won't continue, so you can't do anything until it's finished. But worst of all in multiplayer it does not show any folders anymore, it just shows every song in one big list. It's no problem for strangers since you probably only have a few songs in common anyway, but if you play with a friend that has thousands of the same songs it can take a long time to find a specific one.
Overall it's a really fun and great looking game, with some occasional frustrations both in the game and menu.
Game Traits applied to Beat Hazard (PC) by Norgium