Atari and Asteroids blast onto Facebook with Asteroids Online

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Asteroids Online
One of the original space odysseys in video gaming, Asteroids, has reached Facebook in the much updated form of Asteroids Online. Made possible by its original publisher, Atari, Asteroids Online brings back the same gameplay you adored in the early 80s onward with a massive suite of features designed for the modern, social gaming crowds. Using the now-popular Unity 3D engine, much of this Asteroids overhaul is in 3D including its various ships and the infamous asteroids. But the overhaul doesn't stop there--this is not your average Facebook game. And that's the whole point.

"We're consciously trying to stay away from the mindless click fests," Atari's VP of Consumer Experience, Patrick Ford, told IGN. "There are millions of different types of people on Facebook. The FarmVille-playing housewives might not like Asteroids, but we're confident plenty of people will."

Find our full preview after the break.

Campaign Menu
While this is still Asteroids, nearly everything aside from the basic gameplay of steer and shoot has changed. And with that said, a detailed tutorial is in order, but don't worry--it won't be too long before you get to blow stuff up. Asteroids Online operates in Missions, like most social games, though these are far more interactive and skill-based than most . And while most of them involve blowing flying hunks of rock to bits, there are some that pit you against the clock or toe-to-toe with alien enemies.

In addition to the original combat of steering your ship via the arrows keys and firing away furiously with the space bar, the 'V' key activates an interesting ability called "Hyperspace." This new feature warps your ship into a wormhole of sorts and back out into usually a safe area, which is perfect for when you're in a pinch and need to get out fast. (Though, it does take time to recharge.) This is also useful for luring enemy aliens into asteroids, which can take them out too (and they don't have shields).

Damage report
Missions are split up into three Sectors, or rounds. Your job in each Sector is to destroy enough rock chunks to fill up the meter on the top right corner of the screen completely. However, each new round isn't exactly a fresh start as the damage to your shields will carry over into the next Sector until you complete the mission. Luckily in this version of the game, death isn't necessarily 'Game Over.' But if your ship sustains maximum damage, you will have to pay up in Credits to repair or if you're too low on Credits you may abandon the mission. Doing this will result in you losing the Energy needed to access the mission. Abort too many times and you'll be at a standstill.

Of course, Energy is what drives your actions in this game and you'll need gobs of it if you want to play for longer than a few missions at a time. In addition to Energy refilling over time, players can currently gift each other Energy in packs of 40. You can also purchase Atari Credits to pay for more Energy in packs of 400, 1,000, 2,000 and 4,000 for $5, $12.50, $25 and $50, respectively. This paid currency can also be used to speed along the timed process of ship upgrades which cost Credits regardless, the game's natural currency found through blasting asteroids while on Missions.

Galactic Map
Much unlike the original Asteroids, this update contains six ships with several different weapon and shield configurations. Believe it or not, this multitude of ships and weapons matters when it comes to dealing with the game's variety of enemies and situations. They'll also be necessary when moving onward to new star systems, which can be accessed through the game's Galactic Map feature. Each new area requires a certain amount of experience to enter and will be blocked off by a red beam until that time comes. These additional zones will certainly contain more missions and hopefully more ships and weapons, but it's too early to tell given the game just launched recently.

Keeping in mind that Asteroids Online is still in its beta phase. There are still a number of mysterious features like "Champion" and "Challenge" that have yet to surface in addition to what appears to be a worldwide leaderboard. Despite the lack of these features, Atari has come out swinging on Facebook through a massive overhaul to one of the most beloved retro games and transforming it into something relevant.

Click here to play Asteroids on Facebook Now>

What do you think of bringing retro games to Facebook? What classic game would you like to see get overhauled for social platforms? Sound off in the comments. Add Comment.
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