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A.R.E.S. is a series of episodic games (with only the first episode currently released, Extinction Agenda) developed by indie developer Extend Studio. The first episode is available on PC (the Steam has two exclusive suits), with the XBLA version coming eventually.
The plot of Extinction Agenda is as follows: In the late 21st century, humanity has contaminated the Earth to such a dire state that an organisation of scientists, United Earth (UE) had formed in an effort to save it. Governments from around the world collectively contributed trillions to UE, funding its expensive and highly experimental research. They managed to hit success, with Dr. Julia Carson's innovative concept, known as Deep Space Reprocessing (DSR), which allowed humans to recycle waste into organic materials through abiogenesis, a process that would essentially recycle the planet and transform it into a more habitable state. It turns out to be a success, Earth's state is improving, and things are beginning to look up for humanity.
Then disaster strikes. The only DSR space station, Junk Sector, is hit by an unidentified crystalline object, which emits a mysterious green gas, and all contact with the crew is lost. Dr. Carson herself leads a team onto the station to investigate, and discover that the robots on board are being controlled by the gas. Their first actions are to 1) head to the armory, and 2) send samples of the gas back to HQ. Using the samples, UE manages to figure out how to make robots immune to the gas, now called "zytron". The answer was to create a zytron-immune robot more technically advanced than any robot UE had ever created. The robot would need to excel at combat and have a name akin to its strength and brutal efficiency – Ares.
The first episode, at least, is a side-scrolling shooter. Ares has a array of weaponry to use, as well as two types of grenades. He also has backup from Valkyl, a military-support satellite, who can rain down laser death once her bar is full. The game uses a 'combo' system with a maximum of 99 hits, and each stage you complete has a letter rank, the maximum rank in Normal mode being A, and Hard mode has SS as its maximum, these ranks are determined by factors such as how fast you complete the stage, your highest combo, how much damage you take during boss fights, and how much material you collect. Speaking of which, collecting materials from destroyed enemies allows you to upgrade your weapons and grenades, create more grenades and health packs.
Though the first episode is a fairly short game, its replayability comes from the hidden secrets, achievements, and getting higher ranks. If you're a fan of side-scrolling shooters, give it a try.
- Action Girl / Badass Bookworm: Surprisingly, Dr. Carson. Despite being a scientist, it's heavily implied that she is quite capable with a weapon. When Ares actually rescues her, the first thing she does is point her gun at him and threaten to shoot. Considering she's been holding out mostly on her own for at least a few days, the fact that she hasn't been captured or killed is quite an achievement.
- Awesome Yet Practical: The Wave Emitter. Shoots through walls and does decent damage. Perfect for killing enemies without getting in their line of fire.
- Badass Automaton: Ares, of course, as well as Tarus and Valkyl.
- Bittersweet Ending: While the Minos Cannon has been destroyed and humanity is safe, Junk Sector, humanity's only hope for bringing Earth back to its former glory, has been destroyed along with it. On the other hand, humanity can rebuild, and there's still more episodes...
- Boobs of Steel: There are exactly two women in Extinction Agenda: Dr. Carson, and Valkyl. The former has a decent bust, and is an Action Girl. Valkyl, on the other hand, is quite well-endowed, and carries a BFG which she can use to rain Death From Above when Ares needs it.
- Bragging Rights Reward: The Genesis Suit, which requires an SS Rank. However, in order to get SS Rank, you need SS ranks on all stages except Stage 5, which requires an S rank, which averts the trope. There is a good reason for this, however - the Minos Cannon is that hard to perfect.
- Crowning Music of Awesome: The title screen music, and Stage 5. The entire soundtrack is quite good. Considering the composers are the same pair who did Iji's soundtrack, this is not surprising.
- Glass Cannon: The Berzerker Suit (Which could be obtained for free by redeeming prize tickets in Steam's Summer Camp, or be bought as DLC) is this through and through. Its weapon kills things with fire, but as long as you are equipped with it, you take more damage than usual.
- Goddamned Bats: The Sentry Pods, oh, God. They fire three shots simultaneously, each shot going in a different direction. This can be very annoying when trying to rack up combos... Or even trying to get somewhere, as shown by those two vertical shafts in Stage 4.
- Hot Scientist: Dr. Julia Carson, by far. Hell, she wears a tube top under that lab coat!
- Humans Are Bastards: Though humans have been trying to clean up their act as a whole, it seems, Zytron thinks humanity are a mistake, and one that must be corrected.
- Kill Sat: Valkyl. And there is the Minos Cannon, UE's secret weapon, speculated by Dr. Carson to have been created for a political agenda. Ares is forced to destroy it in order to prevent Zytron from using it to destroy humanity.
- Mid-Season Upgrade: Ares gets an upgrade to his suit literally halfway through the first episode - halfway through stage 3, to be precise. And it is awesome.
- Nintendo Hard: And how. Even on Normal difficulty, the game will punish you hard.
- Peninsula of Power Leveling: Each stage has at least one ideal area to rack up a 99 hit combo.
- Precursors: Zytron, who claims to have created humanity, and believes that doing this was ultimately a mistake, which leads it to attempting to use the Minos Cannon to wipe them out. It's not abusive or neglectful, it's just simply doing what it thinks is right.
- Redshirt Army: Averted. Tarus Group knows how to hold their own, even if they're not as good as Ares - their leader saves Ares from the stage 3 boss in its death throes with one shot.
- Shock and Awe: The Prime Guardian specialises in this. Then there's the Photon Launcher, which is basically, when fully upgraded, the most powerful weapon in the game aside from Valkyl's Zypher Cannon.
- Spaceship Girl: However, unlike other examples, Valkyl is satellite in a humanoid form. Her laser cannon attack? It's from the BFG she carries.
- That One Boss: Stages 3, 4 and 5's bosses are all quite hard, but increasingly so. The worst part? To get SS rank for each stage, you need to kill them without taking damage. Trying to get that Genesis Suit is not easy.
- Stage 3 has the Sentinel, which warps around quite a lot, and it has attacks that literally require you to use the ground dash's invincibility to avoid taking damage.
- Stage 4 has the Prime Guardian. Its first stage has attacks that are difficult to dodge even when you can see them coming, and then it Turns Red...
- The Minos Cannon. There is no achievement for perfecting it, and you can get SS rank without doing so. There is a good reason for this. It is basically Bullet Hell. Good luck with this one.