August 7, 2007 - The Blast Factor: Multiplayer Pack is a very simple expansion. If you don't own Blast Factor already, you'll need to get that first, of course. But you should probably read Jeremy's review before you run to your PS3, hands shaking in anticipation, and start your download. After all, there's a better game of the same type to get, and that game is Super Stardust HD. But we don't have to talk about that. We shouldn't. Because you probably already own Super Stardust, so you know how fantastic it is. Moving on.
The boss battle. We pwned it.
Ultimately, there's not much to say about the Blast Factor: Multiplayer Pack, because it only adds a few additions to a passable game. However, if you're a fan of Blast Factor, and noticed the painful absence of multiplayer, then this is certainly worth the small price tag of $2.99. The Multiplayer pack, besides tweaking a few gameplay elements (ever so slightly) and adding a Practice mode, simply adds a multiplayer dynamic to the game. That's it. The game is almost completely identical to the original, except with the ability to game with up to four players either cooperatively or in a Grudge Match. There are no major design changes, boss battles or anything. Just multiplayer.
The multiplayer elements are handled exactly the way you'd expect them to be handled, which is technically a good thing. The implementation is precise and doesn't mess with the core gameplay, so if you're a fan of Blast Factor, there's no need for concern that this expansion will ruin your game. At the main menu, after you select New Game, you have the option of picking Single Player, Co-op or Grudge Match. Single Player, as mentioned before, dives you right into the same game with no dramatic alterations. In other words, if you've played the single-player mode of the original Blast Factor, you've played the single-player of the expansion pack.
The multiplayer modes can get interesting, though. It's nice to have the ability to play with up to four people, but any more than two and things tend to get crazy. Not just your normal, everyday crazy. We're talking white-knuckle, froth-in-the-mouth crazy. Selecting Co-op puts you right into the main single-player campaign, except two to four little ships swim around in the name of viral destruction, as opposed to just one. Each ship/player is denoted by a different color (dibs on purple!) and every player has access to the same arsenal, the only real difference being that the camera doesn't zoom in on a player using the Repulsor. Good thing too, because not being able to see your ship in a massive swarm of rabid viruses could spell trouble, with a capital "T."
For the most part, co-op worked well when we had three players join in. Although the game technically plays the same (same enemy formations, same number of items and upgrades, etc.), Blast Factor felt way more fun when engaged in multiplayer. It suddenly becomes more of a team effort to survive, as opposed to a very isolated, very uneventful single-player shooter. The balance that the mode creates is equally satisfying, since adding more players increases the confusion, while simultaneously giving you more firepower on your side.
We do have a sneaking suspicion that the main game could get easier when multiple players are involved. Granted, you share the same number of lives and such, but a player will respawn after clearing a cell, even if your team has no additional lives left. So if your group of friends can handle the intensity of Blast Factor, you may be able to breeze through the game more efficiently than on your own. But this depends entirely on the players. Sometimes, things are just too cluttered to see what's happening.
Grudge Match, while not my favorite mode, was preferred by a few IGN folk when dealing with multiplayer modes. In the grand scheme of things, you and your friends are placed in a series of cells with a whole storm of baddies. The only way to win is to survive, meaning you need to slosh those lovely fluids about and send enemies in your friend's direction. Or just let them make a stupid mistake. That's all there is to Grudge Match, besides being able to adjust how many rounds you'd like to do. You really play no other role in your opponent's survival though, since your weapon only nudges the other players at best, and running into them does nothing.
After installing the Blast Factor: Multiplayer Pack, you may notice that nothing has really been done to improve the game, besides the said multiplayer. The music is still boring (and strangely depressing), the weapon upgrades are still short-lived, and the difficulty (in my opinion) is still too high. Honestly, having an enemy spawn into you three times in a row can be a bit of a drag. So what does it all come down to? Do you want to spend $2.99 to make Blast Factor a multiplayer game? That's entirely up to you. If you're a fan, go ahead and grab a few buddies. If you didn't like Blast Factor all that much, your opinion won't change with this expansion. So make the call, and get down with the sickness.