Circuit Strike (a.k.a. cs.one) is the old school computer game Asteroids given new attitude and hopped up on energy drinks. Featuring hypnotic graphics, a driving techno beat, and incredible difficulty, Cirucuit Strike will appeal to twitch-fast action gamers looking for a quick challenge. Hack your way through computer main frames and destroy as many data cores as possible before death inevitably takes you. If nostalgia for a pleasant game of Asteroids has you interested in cs.one, you should probably look elsewhere. It will have you producing adrenaline on level 1 and will make you frustrated by level 2, at least the first few times you play. This game requires three fingers, good reflexes, an understanding of vector and thrust physics, and luck. If that makes you think “Bring it!” then you may have the hardcore “skillz” necessary to play Circuit Strike.
As far as a story line goes, there isn’t one. There also is no sure end to the game, just death and the chance to set a high score. On each level, you must destroy the shield generators to access the data core for each level. Watch out for turrets and randomly generated AI fighters. To make things even more hectic, a self-destruct sequence kicks in after all the shield generators are destroyed. Dodge death and destroy the data core before the timer runs out or its game over. You start with only three ships and the game offers you limited help, although activating “bullet time” can be a literal lifesaver in tight situations. Bullet time slows everything down and makes you invincible for a few seconds. You can recharge your bullet time supply by destroying AI fighters and collecting their green ghost data. If you can make it past 5 mainframes, you’ll unlock the next difficulty level. At this point, if things still aren’t challenging enough for you, switch controls to advanced, which requires your left thumb to make constant adjustments to control the ship’s “rudder.”
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Circuit Strike has some great style. The pulsing techno music does a great job getting your focus into “the zone” and keeping you there, especially with headphones (which the game will remind you). Although all the graphics are simple geometric shapes, the lighting effects and complex action really make the game feel futuristic. To give things an edgy punk-hacker feel, the game is riddled with leet speak. Whenever you die, the game throws some particularly frustrating (and motivating) insults at you, like “all.ur.base” and “what.teh.sux.” To keep things competitive against humans, the folks at H. Grenade added a few pages of achievements such as “suicide kill a shield generator” or “collect 500,000 points on hardcore mode.” Your score is also recorded and automatically compared to players from around the world, so you can easily see how awesome you are (or are not).
With all the action going on, it can be hard to see things on the screen, especially with your fingers in the way. An option to zoom out would be nice. In fact, there aren’t many options or gameplay modes at all here, but clearly that’s not what cs.one is about. This game is pure, high-speed, unrelenting action. Love it or hate it, If you can handle the heat, Circuit Strike will keep you entertained.