Razor Salvation THD found its way into Google Play recently, offering explosive shooting action full of futuristic mechs and menacing aliens. The game was made with NVIDIA Tegra compatibility first and foremost, so device compatibility is minimal for the time being.
Razor Salvation THD is effectively a wave defense game. Players land in war-torn hotspots through an orbital drop-pod, and have to stand their ground against alien attackers from all directions. The pod has a variety of weapons from the get-go, such as a missile launcher, minigun, auto-cannon, and mortar, but managing reload times and quick switching are essential to staying alive. There are only four levels to play through, though mission objectives change up every time you play. Those missions keep things relatively fresh, even if the core gameplay doesn’t change much other than offering more challenging enemies to blow up and different scenery.
The pace of gameplay is kind of slow and plodding, since enemies have to creep towards you slowly enough that you can spin your turret around with repeated swipes to wherever they’re showing up on radar. I would have much preferred a system like Vector Conflict where swipes rotate the whole turret by 90 degrees (or 180 with an upwards swipe), and you could instead use tapping as an aiming mechanism. That would also allow enemies to be a bit more quick and keep up the pace for gameplay.
The default control sensitivity is high enough to turn around fairly quickly, but a little too high for precision shooting at medium range. Unfortunately, that precision is needed, since if your crosshairs are off by even a pixel or two, you'll miss the enemy completely - a frustrating affair for weapons with slow firing speeds.
The visuals and audio feel a little blocky. For example, the minigun starts and stops abruptly, depending on when you’re firing. This is a little jarring when you naturally expect a bit of wind-up and wind-down time. The voice acting isn’t particularly compelling, and bleeds into the beginning of gameplay even when you skip the intro for a stage. Many of the sound effects feel repetitive. The NVIDIA branding everywhere is a bit obnoxious. Some of the models, such as the stage 2 infected human, look amateur when you get a close look in the datalog section. Still, the game boasts a few extra features that set it apart, such as support for setereoscopic 3D when your device is plugged into a compatible TV. Plus there's limited destructible terrain, and support for a few wireless controllers.
Players are awarded Razor Bucks for upgrades based on how many civilians they rescue, how many and which type of aliens are killed, and how many of the mission objectives are completed. Completing mission objectives also rewards medals, which can be used to purchase separate vanity items. Yes, in-app purchases are employed to buy up medals, but not Razor Bucks, which should keep things balanced.
There’s a really great spread of weapon upgrades, ranging from clip size to rate of fire to reload speed. Every upgrade has five tiers, ensuring that you can specialize in whichever way suits your playstyle. The more powerful weapons require that you buy ammo, which is a bit of a pain, but ensures you make those big shots count.
There are international online leaderboards, complete with rankings for total and per capita kills and saves. You can also compete against friends by having them all join the same action, though I've never been particularly driven by going for the high score in anything. Don’t be fooled by the 120 MB install size listed on Google Play. After additional files have been downloaded, this game takes up 491 MB, which may be a dealbreaker for those of us playing on a Nexus 7. this also means load times aren’t particularly snappy.
The developer, Blowfish studios, aims to release future games to follow-up on Razor Salvation’s storyline, though it’s unclear if those will be deployed through in-app purchases or free content updates. While I didn't find the storyline particularly compelling, it's good to see a developer dedicating themselves to the long haul.
The bottom line
Razor Salvation THD offers some decent, static defense gameplay, but it feels like it could an extra coat of paint on a couple of levels. The upgrade system is well-balanced, however, and even though in-app purchases are employed, they're only for purely superficial upgrades.
You can pick up Razor Salvation THD in Google Play here for $2.99. Personally, I'd wait until it goes on sale.