It's hard not to be skeptical whenever newer versions of games release not too long after their initial debut. Sine Mora EX builds upon the original 2012 game but is it a shmup worth revisiting?
Sine Mora is a cinematic shoot 'em up similar to Einhänder and Söldner-X except without any umlauts. You control your ship as you would in any shmup except there are a few complexities that help Sine Mora forge its own identity. For starters, you can unleash a time capsule move that essentially allows you to slow down enemy forces so you can weave through projectiles easier. Additionally, your ship is equipped with a powerful sub-weapon that depends on which pilot you're currently controlling. You can also hold a button to slow your ship's speed down which helps you manoeuvre with more accuracy. The tight controls and variety of gameplay elements combine to create an intuitive yet comprehensive shoot 'em up experience that's a lot of fun. On top of that, the assortment of enormous bosses are just awesome to take on.
One thing that hasn't changed about Sine Mora is its detailed and impressive visuals. They're just as engrossing now as they were five years ago. Watching planes and projectiles fly all over the place within the unique and gorgeous environments is quite a sight. On top of this, the audio is also well done. Sine Mora's soundtrack is composed of electronic melodies that complement the visual style although you don't get to enjoy them much because the sound effects are very prominent. This isn't a bad thing, however, as the explosions, gunfire, and immediately gratifying chimes whenever you collect power-ups all add a lot of satisfaction to the gameplay.
Sine Mora EX includes a multiplayer component that allows you to either cooperate or compete with a friend. The cooperative multiplayer is rather innovative as it has one player control a satellite just like in a twin-stick shooter. This player can swap between putting up a shield in order to protect both players or utilize a gun to help take down enemy forces. The versus mode has three variations that basically involve racing, a twin-stick combat arena, and a game where you defend generators. Thankfully, the same content from the original version is included such as all seven story mode campaign stages, arcade mode, score attack mode, and boss training.
Version differences: the original vs. EX
Sine Mora initially debuted on Xbox 360 back in 2012. This updated EX version includes all of the content from the original plus local cooperative multiplayer, 15 extra challenges, and 3 versus modes. Also, the original forced you to play with black bars on the top and bottom of the screen but now this "Cinematic Aspect Ratio" is optional. Finally, one disappointing omission from the initial release is that Sine Mora EX does not include any stereoscopic 3D functionality but it does have 4k support.
One thing that always annoyed me about Sine Mora is that its story is unnecessarily convoluted and hard to follow. Additionally, the characters aren't very likeable or memorable and they can be quite crude, too, as they'll swear at the drop of a hat. The mix of crass language and fragmented story makes it seem like a teenage boy wrote the script. Besides that, the only other negative points involve a couple of frustrating aspects of the gameplay. First of all, there are plenty of one-hit deaths that can seemingly come out of nowhere. Also, some hazards are difficult to discern such as barely visible missiles or turrets that look like they're in the background. Whenever a frustrating event happens, you'll replay the section while keeping the upcoming dangers in mind. Instead of this forced memorization, these dangers should be more intuitive by having clear visual indications and warnings so there are no surprises.
Sine Mora EX builds upon the original game by offering some truly innovative multiplayer aspects. Besides that, the shooting action is as stellar as ever so if you've never played the original then this is definitely a shmup that you need to check out.
- + Tight shoot 'em up gameplay with incredible boss fights and a variety of elements
- + Awesome visuals and satisfying audio
- + Innovative local multiplayer implementation
- - Needlessly convoluted story with unlikeable and downright crude characters
- - Surprise deaths can feel unfair
- - Some hazards are hard to detect