Hexic HD Xbox Live Review

So why are we reviewing Hexic HD? It’s not like we are trying to influence you to buy it – you can’t. Maybe we might try and tell you to stay away from it, but as you may soon find out it’s an entertaining little title. Anyways, you either got Hexic or you don’t. It is included free with the Xbox 360 system – not the Xbox 360 Core system, as the Core does not have the necessary hard drive included. So what’s the point of this review? To tell you to delete Hexic from existence as it may not be a whole load of fun to play? To make you curse your luck that a Core system was forced upon you? Maybe to make you dance in the streets because you paid that extra cash for a
Premium console?

Six Sides Of Fun

Hexic is designed by the godfather of Tetris, Alexey Pajitnov, so right off the bat you know it’s going to be same air of quality in the title and the more you play it the more apparent this quality seems to get. Hexic takes a relatively simple concept made famous by the likes of Bejeweled and changes things up a bit by slowing down the gameplay a notch and thus leading to a relatively relaxing game that is fun yet challenging to play. As you can see by the screens, Hexic does not copy Bejeweled‘s squares, but instead goes for hexagons challenging you to match up three or more like-coloured pieces. Combos and chain-reactions are also possible if moves are thought out well (or if you just get lucky). This may sound complicated, but trying to explain it is harder than playing it. Suffice to say, after a few minutes’ play the core gameplay mechanics will be stuck in your brain letting you move onto the more complicated stuff. The advanced techniques are really the key to working your way up the leader board and really help to flesh out the game and help keep it entertaining during long play sessions. These techniques range from you surrounding one piece with a collection of pieces of the same colour forming a flower. Doing this helps you rack up loads of points and gives you a special star piece to play around with, letting you rotate the hexagons in different ways. Of course not all special pieces are there to help you – bombs can pop up every now and then and can ruin your game if not dealt with (matched with two of the same colours) in a specified number of turns.

Three Ways to Play

Hexic offers three game modes to play about with. Each has its own appeal and different gameplay quirks to offer great changes of pace. ‘Marathon’ mode is perhaps where most of your game play time will be spent. This mode isn’t timed and is probably the most relaxing to play as you can wait as long as you want on any move thinking. You can look as far ahead as you can get getting your cortex working hoping for that high score. ‘Timed’ mode is fun to play too, but is more challenging and more quickly paced. In this mode you start with a 50-second timer which begins ticking down the second you start playing. If you set of a combo, a few extra seconds go back on the clock, but it is best to try for one of the advanced techniques mentioned earlier as these add a huge chunk of time onto the clock. Finally is ‘survival’ mode and was probably my least favourite mode of the game. In this mode pieces don’t reappear when you hit a combo, instead you keep getting rid of pieces until there are no possible combos left. When this is done, the game refills the board with pieces and moves to the next level. However, the remaining piece that you did not get rid of now becomes stuck on the board not letting you move them. You can now only take these pieces out by including them as part of a combo. ‘Survival’ can be fun to play, but the other two modes are infinitely more entertaining.

Presentation

Although little is going onscreen, Hexic is quite the looker with each of the coloured pieces popping of the screen (particularly when seen on HDTV). Sure the game is not pushing the boundaries of your brand new Xbox 360, but for a puzzle game it is very well off in the graphics department. The soundtrack is quite weird as the same composition plays on a loop for the whole duration of the game, but at times a few new instruments or eerie sounds are added into it to spice it up. Although the music could be classed as boring, it does set a nice mood for play the game in. If you do hate the music after a few minutes play you can always hook up your iPod or other custom soundtrack and play something more to your liking, but the games loses some of its appeal if you do this.

Overall

All in all, Hexic HD is a great start to introduce you into the possibilities of Xbox Live Arcade. It is up there with the best available to play on the service. There are far worse games available on the service at the moment charging you almost 10 quid to play and offering far less in terms of thrills. The fact you get the game for free when you buy the console (Premium only!) adds to its appeal. Hexic is a game that is hard to learn but easy to master and can be played in either a long or a short burst. As a result, the game can get very addictive. Turn on your 360 and get lost in the world of Hexic now.

7.2 out of 10

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