FIGHT! Audiosurf Vs Beat Hazard

Everyone's a rock star, without a plectrum, thanks to the innovation that is... Guitar Hero! When it comes to the PC though, it's just a series of bum notes

While Guitar Hero may have revitalised the music genre in games, it’s a series that never quite perfectly translated to PCs as well as it did consoles. While originally released for the Xbox, Beat Hazard is a game that seems like it was always meant to be on the PC, and it’s a game that embraces the mechanics it has to provide you a game that is addicting as it is awesome.

What exactly is Beat Hazard? The easiest way to describe Beat Hazard is if Asteroids and Audiosurf were capable of reproducing, and their kid knocked out the doctor upon birth. Like Audiosurf, every single song you own could potentially be used as a level, which is influenced by how your music plays. Some songs may be filled with enemies and boss fights, and some might only have a few, but your weapons might be as effective as a peashooter. Like Asteroids, you control a ship in space and shoot a lot of things in order to get the highest score you can possibly attain and, like both Audiosurf and Asteroids, that score is all important and will keep you coming back again and again.

As you destroy enemies or those flying pieces of space junk that are in no way asteroids, you get score multipliers, Volume-Ups and Power-Ups. The Power-Ups just make your shots more powerful, and the Volume-Ups make the music in the background louder, as well as add to the volume of your shots, allowing you to shoot wider and more often, which allows your shots to be in better sync with the music. If you last long enough and get your power and volume to the maximum, you unlock your Beat Hazard weapon, which allows you to spread destruction in an array of colours and power that will make Geometry Wars start to feel nervous, and is extra devastating against the bosses.

The main game to compare Beat Hazard to is, of course, Audiosurf. Why? Both games let you play with your music, and so both are score attack games that are as big as your music library is. So, which of the two is better? Will Audiosurf hang ten and ride the waves of victory? Will Beat Hazard pass the course and leave the competition bruised? When will hypothetical questions stop being used in such a manner?

There’s only one way to find out.  Audiosurf…  Beat Hazard

Synchronicity with Music:
Beat Hazard doesn’t always feel as in sync to your music as Audiosurf is. Audiosurf’s tracks are all unique, with the speed you go through them altering in time to the music and, after a while, it genuinely feels as if the track designs work amazingly in sync with music. Sadly for Beat Hazard, the game layout doesn’t always make it seem like you’re as synced with the music as it’d like you to think. While Audiosurf can bring you slopes, loop de loops and a rollercoaster ride, Beat Hazard just gives you the same background, but with a variable rate of enemies and how powerful your attacks are. In both cases, the harder the game is, the more in sync it gets to the music as it then in turn reads more from the songs and applies them to the game. However, Audiosurf looks and feels more in tune with your music as all the tracks feel different to each other, while Beat Hazard’s enemy frequency and events can at times feel random and the player slightly less satisfied. A clear win for Audiosurf.

Winner: Audiosurf

Difficulty:
Beat Hazard is quite difficult, and you may find yourself pretty swamped at the beginning. The first few times I played Beat Hazard, I was relentlessly destroyed by the computer. On easy mode. While that may just be a poor reflection on me, the game feels very difficult at first, but then, this makes it feel all the more satisfying when you progress. One thing that this game has over Audiosurf is the sense of satisfaction and achievement when you succeed. Working hard at the game becomes a priority, and the feeling after nailing a hard level is immensely satisfying and often brings more panic, shock and relief into your system than a track on Audiosurf. Very little in gaming brings about the thrill of the song slowing or having a stop, and your weapons becoming useless as a horde of enemies appear, and the music jumping back in and saving you just before you die. Still, it’s very difficult, and while you can always opt for a lower difficulty, it might take a lot longer before you feel safe enough to move on up difficulty levels, and might turn some people off the game. The fact that Audiosurf is easier may be a bit dissatisfying for some, but means it’s more playable and a lot less frustrating than Beat Hazard. Masochists and those who love challenges will enjoy Beat Hazard a lot more and feeling more satisfied, but Audiosurf’s easiness in comparison means its easier to get into and start skill running than in Beat Hazard, meaning that Audiosurf wins this round as its difficulty allows it to become more accessible.

Winner: Audiosurf

Levels of Addiction:
Something Beat Hazard has over Audiosurf is the levelling system. You see, in Beat Hazard, every attempt you make adds your points to an overall total, so even if you fail a song, your points still matter, and this encourages you to try more in order to unlock more levels, which can give you bonuses from more pickups at the start to less bonuses lost upon death, to more lives, and then ultimately Insane Mode. The temptation of “One more go” because all the stronger when another level milestone is in sight, and it’s something that will keep you coming back more than Audiosurf can.

Round Winner: Beat Hazard

Variety- Modes Of Play:
Beat Hazard feels like it has a lack of accessibility compared to Audiosurf, especially as Audiosurf has so many ways of playing a level with more obvious differences in difficulty, and there are at least 14 different ways of playing a song, and more when you factor in Ironman Mode. With Beat Hazard, there’s only the one way to play a song, otherwise there’s only Survival Mode and a Visualiser. Survival mode is just playing an album the whole way through, and there’s not much else to say, other than it’s really, really difficult depending on the albums you pick. The Visualiser seems cool at first, but like the rest of the game, is all too flashy without a true synchronicity to the music.

Round Winner: Audiosurf

Leaderboards:
For a game obsessed with high scores, Beat Hazard’s leaderboard system just seems way too lacking in comparison to Audiosurf’s. Audiosurf’s leaderboard system involves a rundown of an individual track with nearby scores, worldwide scores and friend scores, as well as the scores for alternative difficulties, giving you a much greater incentive to play a track again, and makes it easy to battle your friends. What does Beat Hazard give you? A leaderboard of your highest score for song within the boundaries of a song’s length. This means its a lot harder for you to compare scores with friends, and makes battling with friends, or others, much less satisfying. As a result, when combined with the levelling up system, Beat Hazard feels more like a game that doesn’t really care about your best score on a single song, but more a game that wants you to explore a wider spectrum, and becomes less about getting the best score in the world or against your friends, but one that wants you to explore as many different tracks as possible. You feel like you’re able to play more tracks, and not worry about mastering them as much as in Audiosurf, where the appeal of topping a leaderboard for a song you love is all important, and that feeling isn’t replicated in Beat Hazard.

Round Winner: Audiosurf

Variety – Suitable Music:
The most important aspect of the Beat Hazard versus Audiosurf battle is undoubtedly which of them allows you to play the widest range of music most effectively. Arguably, they could each play a wide range of music effectively, but I don’t find that to be the case so much with Beat Hazard. Its main negative is that the song feels very difficult to defeat if it’s not very rocky, fast or loud, and so only really feels like you get the most enjoyment out of it when playing Rock, Metal, or something fast paced and loud. Playing slow songs or something that isn’t ideally suited to the game makes it overwhelmingly difficult and detracts most of the fun from the game. Audiosurf however, feels fun no matter what type of music you’re playing, and while it may be easier on slower songs, for example, its still fun to play and that’s where, to me, it gets the final edge on Beat Hazard.

Round Winner: Audiosurf

So where does that leave our competitors?

With all that, the score total stands as… Drum roll please…

Audiosurf 5, Beat Hazard 1

Meaning that Audiosurf takes the victory in the first FIGHT! by a landslide and takes home the first FIGHT! Trophy.

Where do we stand? Audiosurf is the better game, but I feel that both are best enjoyed in tandem with each other. Beat Hazard owes a lot to Audiosurf and Asteroids, and it is as fun, and in some rare cases more fun than its main influences. Both Beat Hazard and Audiosurf are pretty cheap and, on the UK Steam store, both could be yours for around £15 altogether. That way, you get the best of both worlds and can enjoy two games that, in the end, are as large as your music collection. Both are immense fun, both are great value for money, both are a great sign that the “Music Game” can work on PC as well as on consoles, and I heartily recommend them.

This has been the first FIGHT! Stay tuned for next time, folks!

Audiosurf



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4 Comments

  1. MarkuzR says:

    I have to admit that I’ve never played either of these games… in fact, I’ve only ever played one Guitar Hero game and wasn’t very good at all, which is odd when you consider that I’ve been a guitarist for around 25 years now. I suppose, for me, it’s about detachment… I want my games to be games and my music to be music and never the twain shall meet. When I play Burnout Paradise, I tend to gloss over the entire soundtrack until one of the awesome songs comes on such as Soundgarden’s “Rusty Cage” (wail for me!!), Faith No More’s “Epic” and even Junkie XL’s “Cities In Dust” but the rest of them just annoy me… especially Avril Fucking Lavigne “Hey hey, you you, you wanna see my throat cut??” or whatever it goes like.

    Most of the time, I play games with the music turned down if it’s possible, unless it’s a game like Oblivion where the incidental music really adds atmosphere to the game… and I enjoyed the quirky soundtrack from Fallout 3, but that’s about it. The thought of playing a game BASED on my music really doesn’t do much for me… but I think that comes down to the fact that I can’t listen to the music I love without actually drumming away on my desk or double bass drumming on the floor. If I fired up either Beat Hazard or Audiosurf with Dream Theater… I’d die instantly because I’d take my hands off the controller and start pretending that I was Mike Portnoy.

    Damn interesting though, and love that there are programmers out there that embrace the frequencies within music and have turned them into an actual game. Inspiring really. I have to go listen to some DT now.

  2. The Preacher says:

    Bizarre idea, getting two games within a genre to duke it out… funny too. I have to say I agree with your assessment. I love Audiosurf, and I’ve got a lot of high scores in the game for some of my favourite songs. Getting an email with the “You have been dethroned at ‘Song’ by BAND by user ARSEHOLE” message is a pretty good gimmick too, because I have to rush to reclaim my lofty dominance over this new pretender. Built-in replay value by virtue of sheer bloody-minded arrogance and over-competitiveness.

  3. Lorna says:

    Very much enjoyed the format of the article and was an interesting read. I have never even heard of the games in question, never really veering towards anything music related in gaming terms, but the concepts are certainly fascinating. Not something I’d play, but enjoyable to read about nonetheless.

  4. Adam says:

    Great matchup Ed. I bought Audiosurf on day 1 and still fire it up for a few rounds every now and again. I think it could benefit from having a better library management system (although the current one is understadably favoured as theirs no question it’s missing a folder) but the rest of the game is pretty faultless. The track generation is fantastic, nice uphill sections on the slow, downhill on the intense -great fun. It has problems with some tracks where the baseline is electronic, it can sometimes result in the pacing of the track only responding to loud noises but when theres absolutely no restriction on what the game will play, thats the price you have to pay. Incidently theres some YouTube videos of a guy playing Beat Hazard (Which someone has stripped the audio from and used on Audiosurf too) where he has just made a recording of his voice and used it differently to try and see how the game responds. Worth googling if your into that sort of thing.

    Beat Hazard, I played the demo but was put off for its lack of .mp4 support. The guy who singlehandedly created it explained that you have to pay Apple for the right to utilise there unlock tools and the cost seemed to outweigh the demand. I think he may have since released it as a DLC option somehow but that was one thing that put me off as I have a 100% legit music collection, some CD, most .mp4/aac which means my 31 day long library was completely unplayable on Beat Hazard.

    That said, what tracks I had worked I never felt responded well in BH and I was put off by needing to collect Volume Increasers during each stage, I wanted to listen to the music in the first place, I just wanted to keep my hands occupied too.

    I do love the concept of having a game generate itself on music, it helps you set the mood for how you want to play every time and I reccomend everyone give it a go if you have a digital music library, especially now that its cheap on Steam once more in their summer sale.

    @Preach – I am the casual champion of a Daft Punk song, can’t remember which but every now and again I get those reminders and it ruins my day untill I get my vengence which as you said, is a fantastic way to bring players back.

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