The game consists of 99 sectors which you must fight through. Your vessel travels across the sectors on green beams of light. Your main enemies are the white saucers that appear on the grid and try to fry you. You must shoot 15 white saucers in each level to move on to the next sector. However, many other enemies lurk and try to block your progress. You are armed with a normal gun, which travels halfway up the screen, and three torpedos which travel all the way and can destroy anything (you only get three per level, so use them wisely). Once you shoot 15 white saucers, a giant saucer called the Sector Sentinel comes along. If you can hit it with a torpedo, you get bonus points. Also, during each level an extra life powerup floats down the screen, so keep an eye out for it.
The graphics are excellent. For a 2600 game, the 3-D perspective is done quite convincingly. Sound effects, while on minimal the minimal side, do a good job fitting the situation. This game uses a joystick instead of a paddle, but control is accurate and tight just the same.
The first few levels are pretty easy, but don't let them fool you; the game gets tough real fast. With exciting and challenging gameplay, Beamrider belongs right up there with the extensive library of grade-A titles by Activision.