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Sine Mora Review

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Developer: Digital Reality Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Release Date: March 21, 2012 Available On: Xbox 360

The 2D shooter genre has been around for a long time. It became popular with simple mechanics, easy-to-learn controls, and over the top attacks. Digital Reality and Grasshopper Manufacture have decided to revisit the classic shoot ’em up genre with Sine Mora, showing us that even an old dog-fighter can learn new tricks.

Unlike a lot of games in the genre, Sine Mora has a pretty deep and surprisingly seriously-toned story behind it. The antagonist of the story, Ronotra Koss, controls a massive robot army and is hell-bent on genocide. The only hope of survival is Argus Pytel and his group of time-manipulating animal pilots to stop the mass murder and prevent destruction of the entire world.

While fairly deep and detailed, the way in which the story is told to you fails to meet the epicness of the story itself. You will get short bits of text in-between each new level that give you history and background as well as short dialogue sequences with your team while you are in the level. Sadly, these segments were very boring and the story was told out of order, making it unique, but hard to follow. I found myself skipping through a lot of the story towards the end in order to jump straight into the action.

Once you pick up the controller it will immediately feel familiar to anyone who has played a 2D shoot ’em up before. The game is a side-scroller with enemies to kill everywhere. All of the classic tropes are here, including crazy power-ups for your guns, upgrades, enemies that spray seemingly unavoidable fractals of colorful bullets in every direction, and ridiculous boss battles. Each boss battle has a little cinematic intro sequence that makes your ship seem miniscule in comparison, but is tastefully done and fun to watch.

Sine Mora has taken a unique approach to your health meter where you have seconds on the clock in lieu of shields and health. As you zip around the screen, your timer in the top middle will have a certain number of seconds on it. The seconds count down at a regular pace until you destroy something, which nets you additional seconds. Conversely, if you take damage from the opposing forces, chunks of time are taken away from you and when the clock hits zero – boom, you are dead. There is also a time manipulation element which allows you to slowdown time, enabling you to easily dodge enemy fire or perhaps some tricky obstacles in the level. This ability, however, is limited and depletes quickly. You will have to work very hard to fill that meter back up, so use it sparingly or save it for a boss.

Sine Mora features a standard story mode, arcade mode, score attack, as well as leaderboards to encourage replay and competition. If you’re new to the genre or aren’t the greatest at it, you will definitely want to start out playing the story on normal difficulty because this game is hard. I mean, very hard. I died too many times to count playing on normal, but that was nothing compared to the pain and suffering of arcade mode. When the game tells you what modes are for experienced players, heed the warning.

Sine Mora is a well-rounded shoot ‘em up with a deep, albeit convoluted story, unique and entertaining gameplay elements, and top-notch presentation that will make you forget you are playing an Xbox Live Arcade title. Fans of the genre and anyone looking for a simplistic, yet entertaining (and challenging) experience should definitely pick it up.

Graphics: 9.5
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 8.5
Final: 8.5 out of 10
Written by Matt Evangelista Write a User Review