If there’s one thing that can be said of gamers it’s that they love to do a little world-saving every now and then. The thrill of a life-in-the-balance adventure is enough to get the heart pounding and the instincts on edge.
Verticus delivers on both sensations, pushing the player’s reaction times to their limits and almost daring them to stay calm as the hero plummets to the Earth’s core.
Can this free-falling adrenaline rush push players to the peak of excitement and performance? Find out — appropriately — after the jump.
Verticus comes courtesy of Stan “The Man” Lee. For those not in the know, he’s the guy who created (or co-created) such iconic comic book franchises as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, the X-Men, the Avengers and many other early Marvel superheroes. His thanks for his good deeds? Getting cameo roles in all of their movies.
We learn in the game’s introductory credits that an alien race know as the Obliterators has “infiltrated the Earth’s core.” Along with that, the bad guys are building a horrific doomsday device known as the Cosmic Fuse — and we also discover that no normal human is capable of stopping the forthcoming destruction!
Except maybe Verticus. The mysterious titular hero is a specialist with the know-how and experience to stop the Obliterators.
Freefalling and Sky Fighting
Equipped with jet-powered armor, you move Verticus left and right as he descends toward the planetary core. But no way are the Obliterators going to let him make the journey in one piece.
Along the way, the baddies have posted red and blue mines. Hit one of these stationary bombs and your descent downward could be fatal.
Avoiding them is also easier said than done, too, as the clusters of mines can be laid out in every shape from spirals to layers, forcing you to dodge the quickly approaching weapons.
Then there are the Gator Bots, three-pronged enemies that chase Verticus and fire energy blasts. These are much harder to avoid than the mines. With the mines, once Verticus flies past them, they disappear off the screen. Not so with the Gator Bots, who will continue their pursuit for several falling meters or until they are destroyed.
Not one to run from a fight? Verticus can purchase weapons such as missles that will annihilate his high-flying enemies. Be warned that some of these weapons are only effective for short periods of time, so you may also need to purchase upgrades for a more impactful arsenal.
Oh yeah, be aware of your environment, especially when Verticus starts heading into the city and beneath the surface of the planet. Jagged rocks or structural appendages can be strong enough to stop your controlled descent and send you to oblivion!
Earning Your Wings
As Verticus falls to the surface below, there will be plenty of goodies he can pick up along the way. Perhaps the most important of these are the floating purple orbs. Collect enough of these and you’ll have the ability to continue on with the game should you hit a mine or get taken out by a Gator Bot.
Continues progressively require more purple orbs. For example, the first continue may take five of them to keep on playing, while the next continue after that may need eight, and so on. If possible, try to fly into as many of these as you can so that your airtime is prolonged.
But the purple orbs can also be purchased, as can other items from the store. To make a buy, collect coins, which float in the air. Guide Verticus to fly into the gold rings and build up a tally that will allow him to make upgrades to his health, buy more powerful armor and acquire even more coinage.
Naturally, the coins are sometimes right next to a mine or a Gator Bot, so choose wisely as you pursue the money and try to build up some bank.
If you’re lucky, you may also find a magnet floating in the sky, which will pull nearby coins into your account. There are also other great gifts that can be found above, including tools that boost your health and repair your armor.
The most common helper will be Green Boosters, or triangles, that will exponentially speed up Verticus’ descent and score him some big points. At times, these will also appear right in front of coins and orbs, rapidly increasing his collection process.
Should You Take Flight?
Verticus’ game play is simple, the controls are responsive (Got a slow thumb? You may want to work on your reaction time.) and its visuals look great. The crisp and clean graphics make the characters, items and environments look sharp. And the game’s embrace of dark hues serves to set the tone of the story without flushing out brighter shades.
As a bonus, Stan Lee himself lends his voice to the Commander character, who offers up advice, encouragement and the occasional reprimand should you fail a mission.
The story presented is also told in a comic book style, with panels and thinly worded captions. In many ways, this adventure can feel as though it’s an extension of a comic book plot where the player determines how the action transpires.
With its potential for ongoing gaming, Verticus amps up the challenge the better you get and the further down you go. With its pulse-pounding action, chances are that you will keep returning to the skies to stop the destruction of the Earth’s core!