Ion Assault, from just looking at a screenshot, can be very deceptive. The game looks just like any other dual-stick shooter out there. I assure you it is more than that, with a unique concept and control scheme. Whether this all culminates in a good game though, is another story entirely.
Starting out, Ion Assault seems like it could be pretty simple and rather easy. The object certainly seems simple enough; suck up the space dust in the area and blow it at your enemies and space rocks to destroy them. Once all of the space rocks are destroyed, you move on to the next stage. Complete enough stages and you fight a boss. Defeating a boss allows you to move on to the next level of the game and there are four levels in all.
Along the way, there are several power-ups for you to grab and harness a slight advantage over your enemies. There’s a power-up that allows you to suck more than usual, and there’s another one that sucks in all objects in an area thus destroying them. The power-ups are a nice addition to what is otherwise, a pretty stale shooter.
The bosses in Ion Assault are exactly what you’d expect. Shoot certain parts of the body to bring down the shield so you can shoot a specific part of the body to finish him off. The boss battles are probably my favorite parts of Ion Assault though, and I think that’s mainly due to them being something a little different than the rest of the game.
As you’ve figured out by now, sucking and blowing is all you do in Ion Assault. This is fine and all, but it’s very bare bones and been done before bar the sucking and blowing (which really is nothing more than a gimmick). The game also manages to have a giant difficulty curve which can be very off-putting to a lot of players. It also has a multiplayer mode that I did not even get to try due to not being able to find a single person to play with online.
Coming up with some final thoughts on Ion Assault is difficult, I must admit. It does everything just fine, but it just looks and feels like it’s all been done before. The graphics do provide some eye candy when there’s a lot of particles on screen which is a nice touch. It’s not a bad game necessarily, but you’re better off kicking your 800 Microsoft Points elsewhere.