• If I’d somehow perfected my time-travelling gymnasium to the point where I could return back nearly 30 years to have a word with my younger self about how games have progressed, I’d have to break it to the pimply-faced Peej that sadly, in 30 years time, people will still be playing Breakout. Crestfallen, my younger self, fresh from an extended bout of Manic Miner, would probably wonder how some of the oldest and simplest game ideas can endure for decades.

    Though comparing Shatter to Breakout is like comparing 3D Monster Maze to Grand Theft Auto 4. Sidhe have taken the basic idea of bashing bricks with a ball and given it a serious Tron-like makeover.

    In Shatter’s futuristic world, blips and beeps are replaced by Rez-style thumping breakbeats accompanying the dazzling visuals. Crisply defined play areas are filled with shards of light, and the simple bat / ball core dynamic is replaced by something hitherto more strategic.

    Shatter PS3 - Review Screenshot

    Come and have a go if you think you’re shard enough

    Shatter starts off by providing you with a vessel of light. This vessel is effectively the “bat” and after a short cutscene setting up the minimalist storyline of security breaches and fudged protocols, you’re thrown into a grid of levels, each one of which must be cleared to see you through the next phase.

    Your “bat” controls several energy globes, and these are propelled into the play area to destroy the shards within. So far so Breakout / Arkanoid but you must then manipulate your globes with the shoulder buttons to place them in the most devastating areas of destruction.

    As you do so, energy is released that can be sucked towards your ship and harvested. Get enough of this energy collected together, and with a swift stab of the Triangle button you can unleash a shard wave, destroying everything in its path.

    The first few levels of shatter are played side-on, which is a bit of a switch for a Breakout clone (though a few on the C64 attempted to do a similar thing to great effect). You’ll soon learn that there are other level configurations too, including my personal favourite, a circular area containing moving targets.

    Clear a grid and you progress to the next security breach area. And so on, and so forth – and here’s where Shatter transmogrifies from something that sounds really interesting on paper, to something that becomes very repetitive very quickly.

    The on and on song

    For all shatter’s different areas, and powerups to help you clear each grid more quickly, the game swiftly descends into a rinse-and-repeat effort that dulls the senses. Presentation wise, there’s not much to pick on – but in games like Arkanoid you’ve got the thrill of a new pattern to look forward to. Here, because you’ve got very few variations on the same theme, things are pretty dull and lifeless – and it doesn’t help that the game’s music could’ve been farted out of a sequencer program entirely at random. There’s no licensed music and nothing that sits well enough with the action to keep you engaged.

    So far we’ve seen a few other Breakout-style games hit the PSN Store, and Shatter joins their ranks as one of those titles that looks initially promising, but swiftly becomes a bit of a chore. When the whole idea of playing games is to enjoy yourself, then there really aren’t enough hours in the day to tackle something that’s got such a short burst of appeal tacked around an age old game dynamic. Slick it might be, but essential it isn’t.

    Score: 4/10

    About The Author

    • Alan Chang

      Did you even play the game? Try a boss battle and then spit out this kind of crap. Not even a mention of the bosses on level 7 and 10 which kick ass. But you probably didn’t play long enough for that.This review blows.

      Oh and the music is awesome – maybe not your type, but if I had a machine to shit out that kind of music, I wouldn’t need iTunes

    • Touché

      Alan Chang +1 🙂

    • LMFAO

      hey nice review douche bag. Next time play the game. pfft.

    • Erik

      Are you really play the game? this game its a real example of a simply good game must to be!! awesome!!

    • Faced

      Wow. What an inaccurate review, I won’t bother reading game reviews on this site in the future. This review shows you really don’t know what you’re talking about. To the reviewer, I suggest a career change.

    • This review depressed me so much that I started slicing. I hope you’re happy.

    • Micro

      Fantastic and iridescent review that really encapsulates the entire experience of this turgid and uninspired game. The only thing I would enjoy less is helping the poster above with their slicing, although that does carry a certain charm. This game does not.

    • klwd

      Reading reviews can be interesting, not just because of the verdict, but to see how much these reviewers actually know about games and gamedesign. While you put yourself in the early era of gaming and apparently have some experience with arcade games, you seem to miss their point entirely. I’m surprised to see you call this game “repetetive”.

      You also seem to be the only one that has anything negative to say about the soundtrack. I’m not saying you should adhere to the majority for the sake of it, but isn’t it a bit strange that you are the first to “criticize” this soundtrack? If you can call this criticism: “been farted out of a sequencer program entirely at random”

      Shatter has rejuvenated Breakout-gameplay with new innovative choices (controlling wind, level design), not only making it into something new, but also being able to maintain the spirit and simplicity of the original. You’re entitled to your own opinion of course, you do not need to meet anyone halfway or submit to the majority, but please elaborate on it with proper criticism. Isn’t that your job anyway?

    • Wow. I was away looking after a poorly relative when all the controversy over this review hit, and it’s still raging on. I’ve been in contact with the editors here and with their agreement I thought I’d try and address some of the criticisms raised here.

      1) I played the game, of course I did. I’m not in the habit of downloading stuff then deleting it sight unseen.

      2) In total I put about 4 hours into the game before writing the review which really should’ve been put up as a first impressions piece to ensure it was timely and relevant.

      3) I played the game long enough to form the opinion that it was repetitive and despite being very nicely put together, didn’t really offer any long term appeal for me – or indeed a “hook” to make me want to keep playing. Like all reviews, this is purely an opinion, and opinions are like arses – everyone’s got one but seldom few feel the need or have the guts to put theirs online for a kicking or a kissing.

      4) This isn’t my job, it’s not my career, I write for fun and the therapeutic process of writing about a subject I’m passionate about – games and gaming. I give up what tiny amount of spare time I have to write these reviews for free, voluntarily, for the occasional promo code perhaps – but more often than not I spend my own hard earned cash on games I review for here. Very few other games sites could claim the same and that’s part of what makes Totally Gaming unique in my opinion.

      5) Brandon’s utterly excellent 2nd opinion piece is the other thing that marks Totally out from other sites. Two gamers with completely different tastes have a completely different take on the game, and I actually enjoyed reading his alt-review. He encapsulated perfectly what he got from the game whereas none of the commenters other than the original guy bothered to do so. Also, I’ve not seen one comment on his review – which leads me to believe that the majority of commenters just like moaning when someone doesn’t agree with them.

      6) Whether I’d played this game for 4 hours or 40, I would’ve formed the same opinion. Being overloaded with breakout clones across the years I’ve been gaming could be part of the problem – and recently playing several “reinventions” on the brick-busting theme on PS3 and on the iPhone, Shatter merely brought a couple of new tricks to the table without really being as innovative as it claimed to be. Again, this is purely my opinion and looking at the Metacritic / Gamerankings scores for the game, it’s good to see that the majority of people who picked up the game enjoyed it. I don’t get a buzz out of crapping on people’s parades, it’s actually quite good that people who bought Shatter enjoyed it immensely because it means that companies like Sidhe will keep on doing what they do.

      7) There is a danger when you’ve been playing games for as long as I have that “nothing’s new under the sun”. I’ve been playing games since the late 70s, probably before most of you were born, and sometimes you can get sick and tired of seeing the same ideas rehashed over and over again. Perhaps there was an element of this with Shatter.

      I can only apologise if people took the review personally in some way, that wasn’t my intention and in some ways it’s actually nice to know that regular visitors to the site shot my ass down in flames in the way they did. I’ve taken all the criticism on board and can only add that an opinion is merely that. If someone doesn’t agree with your point of view, take it on the chin, berate them by all means but don’t let it make you angry. Getting angry about stuff on the internet is as pointless an exercise as trying to push mercury uphill with a feather.

      Keep on playing, and most of all keep on coming back to Totally. You might not always agree with all the opinions here but feel free to use that comments box to (cleanly) tell us why.

    • With all due respect for your poorly relative, you’ll find no sympathy from me. I don’t care if you were out finding the cure for AIDS: your ability to critique PS3 games is lacklustre, and, dare I say it, probably stems from either an Xbox bias, or a yearning for the ancient days of gaming which you clearly grew up in, you old, old, man. Now, I’ve read through your response to all the criticism of your review (I nodded off twice, that’s how boring and long it was), and I have some responses of my own.

      1) Nobody is saying that you didn’t play the game. You just didn’t play the game enough. Four hours? Can you review Fallout 3 based on 4 hours? Can you review World of Warcraft based on 4 hours? No. So what makes you think that you can review Shatter based on 4 hours? Because it’s a PSN game, I bet. Well, I’ll have you know that PSN games can be just as deep and expansive and slow to get going as full games that you can buy in the store. Granted, this is more of an arcade game and isn’t all that deep, but I wouldn’t have expected you to have come to that conclusion without putting at least 10 hours into the game. What I’m saying is that you assumed that this game wouldn’t get any better, and even if by chance you would have ended up correct, you know what happens when you assume: you make an ASS out of U and ME. Particularly U.

      2) Yes, your review should have been a “first impressions” article, because clearly it was based only on your first impressions. If you had put more time into the game, like us true fans did, you would have found that each successive impression you had of the game would have been better and better. Frankly, if you posted your “tenth impressions” as a review, I wager you’d have given Shatter a score of 9, like your friend Brandon did. Shatter is a game that is very much like a fine wine: it gets better with time. Your review is more like a rotting piece of meat: the more I eat it (or in this case, the more I read your foul review), the stronger is my compulsion to vomit.

      3) Yes, opinions are like “arses”, as you call them. I assume you are British from the use of that term, and from that I can confirm that you have no taste. Anyway, everyone may have an “arse”, but you may have noticed that some people have more pleasant “arses” than others. I’d wager that your “arse” is hairier, fatter, and more wrinkled than Brandon’s (I speak metaphorically, of course, and am not thinking of your literal “arses” as I type this). It’s also apt that you mention “arses”, because your “arse” is what you appear to be talking out of.

      4) Yes, it’s fairly evident that you aren’t paid for your reviews. I would remark that this is because your reviews are absolutely worthless, but I shall refrain from making such a derogatory statement, as I am classier than that (you, on the other hand, don’t seem to have a problem being derogatory about things: Shatter, for example). I would question the motives of a reviewer who isn’t paid for his work: did the publishers even wine and dine you? Did you even get a nice reviewers kit? If I were reviewing a game which I had to pay money for, and the publishers didn’t even make it worth my while, I could see myself perhaps reviewing it harshly, simply out of bitterness. Is that what happened with you, you bitter unpaid man?

      5) I have not yet had the pleasure of reading Brandon’s review, as you craftily neglected to link to it, but I can promise you that Brandon has a little something that far surpasses your supposed “experience” in gaming: enthusiasm, a joy of PSN games, wide-eyed innocence, un-jaded-ness, a youthful spark, intelligence, understanding, empathy, charisma, integrity, and common decency. I see big things in his future gaming journalism career. Such as a PAYCHEQUE.

      6) Having myself played the game for more than 40 hours, I can promise you that you would have enjoyed it even more at the 40th hour than you did at the 39th, and more at the 39th than you did at the 38th, and so on. So how you can guess that you’d like it as much at the 40th hour as you did at the 4th, without actually playing it that long, I have no idea. I wouldn’t be so bold as to predict how much I’ll enjoy Shatter at the 100th hour: I simply won’t know until I’ve played that long, but suffice to say that I’m fairly certain I’d love it more than ever.

      Now, if you claim that you don’t get a buzz out of “crapping on people’s parades”, then why exactly did you see fit to crap on mine? Your metaphor, of being a crapper on one’s parade, is very apt: for my enjoyment of Shatter was like a parade of prideful joy, until you crapped on it. Now, whenever I turn on my PS3 for some brick-breaking goodness, I always picture your smug face, and my joy is quite figuratively crapped upon. I can not get rid of the sinking feeling that I am playing a 4/10 game, because, let me assure you, I do not purchase 4/10 games. My PS3 hard-drive is a veritable library of Metacritic-approved quality games, and I will not have you and your independant opinion tarnishing it.

      7) Have you ever wondered why there are no elderly games reviewers? If people wanted their gaming opinions from an old codger who has “seen it all”, then the game reviewing industry would be filled with people like you. Instead it is filled with people like me: young, attractive, and multi-ethnic. I’m sorry that you were born when you were: I really am. But that’s not my fault – that is the fault of your biological parents. If I had my way, you too would be part of the YouTube generation, so that you could fully appreciate the wonder that is Shatter, without being so jaded by all the games-exactly-like-Shatter that came out before it.

      Do not insinuate that I took the review personally, as though my life revolves around gaming. I do not accept your apology, and I sincerely hope that you do not run into me down some dark alley, because I fear that I would not be able to hold on to my vow to only use my Tae Kwon Do for self defence. Frankly, until I can take my rage out on you, this review will be all I can think about. It consumes me day and night, and the more I think about your arrogant incorrect summation of a game I hold so dear, the more my rage builds.

      I will keep on returning to Totally, but I can assure you that it will be to read Brandon’s reviews, and not yours.

      Hope your relative’s okay,


    • klwd

      Sarcasm or not, that is the funniest comment I’ve read, perhaps ever.

    • Peej


      /donkey mode

      “You cut me Shrek, you cut me deeep!”

    • Zemus101

      It’s funny. I read Phil May’s review (just found it by googling) for Shatter and I agree’d with everything he said, I wish I didn’t buy the game because now I’m done with it and don’t feel a need to go back. I was shocked to see all the negative comments. Then was happy to see Phil’s response. I was again shocked to see that long ass comment below o.O It’s also funny because I couldn’t get through that entire comment 😛 I’ve never heard of this site before but consider it bookmarked.

    • Cheers Zemus, really appreciate that 🙂

    • JamJim

      I wish I’d read Phil’s review before purchase, as the game made me so angry I punched my wife full in the face.

    • @JamJim: I really hope you are joking

    • JamJim

      Yeah, of course. Only usually go for the body as clothes hide the bruises 😉