Notebook Wars 2

on Thursday, March 10, 2011
Remember when you would draw out epic dogfights on your notepad in school, in between pulling the ponytail of the girl in front of you and feigning interest in the teacher, who was explaining the water cycle for the third time this year? No? Well, maybe it was just me, and of course the DreamForge Studios devs, who bring us this piece of notepad paper known as Notebook Wars 2.

For once, I can not say that I've played the game's prequel, so I can't make any comparisons to improvements from the original, or unneeded flaws. However, judging the game on it's own merits, its a pretty fun game, with some pretty major flaws in design.

In notebook wars 2, you play as a pilot who is tasked to shoot down an armada of enemy planes and occasionally a bunker, tank, or gigantic robotic monstrosity the likes of which could have only come from the mind of Micheal Bay. It is never made clear why you are destroying all of these ships, but one must assume that zombie Nazis have taken over the world. This would also explain the flight skill of the pilots, because apparently having a half decayed brain limits zombie pilots to military parade and delta formations.

The game's upgrade system is standard shooter fare, though very well polished. You have ten ship and ammo types, and while they may have their strengths and weaknesses at the lower tiers, the upper tiers are your standard 'one bullet/plane to rule them all'. The pricing is really well done is most aspects, you really seem to get what you pay for, but a notable exception is in upgrade slots for planes. Some planes only have one upgrade slot, some have up to four. The problem is that the slots have to be unlocked on every plane you buy, and slot prices are both based on the ship's initial price, and grow exponentially each slot. So while that $100,000 might look like a pretty cool goal to go after, its pointless to buy unless you want to spend a half an hour grinding in the game, because getting four slots on it costs $200,000 altogether, twice the price of the most expensive thing in the game. Using the three slot helicopter on the other hand means spending $30,000 total, and is really a better option due to the way the system works.

The combat is pretty fun, but the enemies lack unique qualities by and large, and the rounds go on for way too long and don't do enough to overwhelm you. About 80% of the enemies fly together in lines and fire straight ahead, making it easy to edge kill the entire line, or swoop out of its way. Some of the more interesting AI in the units, these large green planes, were discarded after three levels, even though the different movement style changed up the game and made it more dynamic, and it would've been really nice to see more of that. The game is also very slowly paced. Its certainly not your average shooter, rather than short, frantic rounds with lots of impulse thinking and playing going on, the game sends an ungodly armada of planes at you each round, but at a leisurely pace. It may also be worth mentioning that the final health bar of each boss took far too long to deplete. At the point that the boss has lost all his extra guns, he has no hope of winning, the final health bar just delays the progression of the game by about 50 seconds.

As far the art style, I really do dig it. The crayon art is consistent, and and the animations of things like helicopter blades spinning don't distort at all. I could realistically look at a picture of this game with all the HUD removed and say that someone took crayons, colored pencils, and line paper and drew this out.

Notebook Wars 2 is a pretty good top down shooter, albeit not one that has you working much. It's a really good game to play while doing something else audio-wise, such as listening to music or a podcast, because with no story to speak of, the entire game is very light on requiring player comprehension. Definitely a game I would recommend for someone who has an hour or so to burn.

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