In Barrage, you play some sort of Mercenary ilot sent in to kill things for one reason or another. This oh-so memorable setup is explained in the opening cutscene, which features some terrible acting. Once you get past this, you get to fire up the first mission — a quick-and-dirty blast across a beautifully modeled prairie town.

3_1Barrage features five stages, plus a “tournament” mode where you pound through all of them at once. Though the levels are decent enough the first or second time around, there’s just not enough here to make it worth the cash. What Barrage does deliver, however, is a frantic — and sometimes confusing — pace. At almost all times, powerful enemies are swarming around you and firing off missile after missile, but they present little challenge since you’re given unlimited laser fire and missiles, so trigger mashing won’t deplete your resources.

Virtual invincibility is yours as well — if you run out of energy, you’re forced to land on the ground while your power levels replenish, then it’s off to work again. The only thing to fear is the continually ticking clock — every time you crash, you lose several seconds from your time limit.

In most of the maps, your goal is to fly around and grab certain items, be they nuke parts or energy generators. Once you’ve rammed into enough objects, it’s on to the next stage. In the world of mindless arcade-style shooters, this thin combination of story and gameplay might be acceptable if the entertainment were there, but Barrage never really succeeds on this level due to its wobbly series of levels and forgettable gameplay.

System Requirements: Pentium III 1 GHz, 128 MB RAM, WinXP

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