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Posted by drew10 on Mar 21, 2011
Pixel Junk Shooter 2 – Review – (Q Games – PSN/PS3)

Pixel Junk Shooter 2 – Review – (Q Games – PSN/PS3)

Q Games, Pixel Junk series of titles have become a stable part of the PSN diet and Shooter was one of the stand out titles from the catalogue. Now the sequel is here and finally we get to find out what happened to our intrepid explorers after the end of the first game.

Following on exactly where the first game left off your ship now finds itself swallowed by a giant creature and so begins a new adventure inside the belly of the beast.

For those who have played the first game there isn’t a great deal of new ground to be trodden in Shooter 2. The visual style remains almost exactly as was in the original and the gameplay elements are also very familiar. However Shooter 2 turns everything up to eleven.

Lets start with what remains from the first game, for those of you who never played it. You control a small ship tasked with the mission of rescuing scientists that have been marooned in various parts of the levels. You do this with a grappling hook that picks up the stricken genii. Your ship is also equipped with a laser cannon and missile launcher. And ‘suits’ can be collected for your craft that allow the use of an element that replaces your standard gun and can be used for solving puzzles. The environments of the levels play a huge part in solving puzzles and progressing through areas. There is lava, water and gas that return from the first game and each will cancel out the other. Water turns lava to rock, and lava will ignite the gas. You will need to use these combinations throughout the game.

So what is new? Well, as mentioned earlier the environmental elements play a big part in progression through the levels and PJS2 adds some new elements to the mix. For a start you now have to contend with the creatures stomach acid which will eat its way through your ship if you do not wash it off in water in the allotted time. Luckily there is generally water within reach but this still makes for some awkward situations as you try to avoid getting hit by the acid. There are also bubbles that are difficult to navigate through as they will send you ship into a spin as well as a few other nasties which you will just have to discover.

There are now also new ‘suits’ for you craft which basically change the gameplay mode. The ‘hungry suit’ allows you to eat your way through walls and drop boulders on enemies heads, Dig-Dug-style. Whilst the change in style mixes things up it feels a little tacked on and doesn’t really add to the experience. There is also a new ‘light suit’ which is needed to navigate through dark areas later in the game.

Whilst the first game rarely deviated from its original layout Shooter 2 has far more variation in level design and puzzles. However the overall difficultly is also ramped up considerably with the early levels almost as hard as the latter levels on the first game. Okay, if you played the first game through to completion not quite so okay if this is your first taste of the action. The need to replay levels over-and-over as you work out the best strategy for each can be extremely frustrating. This frustration can be quelled slightly with the addition of a buddy to help you along. Yes the co-op gameplay from the first game returns and is one of Shooter 2′s real highlights. It makes the collection of scientists and gems much easier when there are two of you.

There is now also an online mode in which you battle against another ship to collect the most scientists and gems. Although slightly limited this is a fun mode and good for a break from the norm. Collecting items brings cash that can be used to upgrade your ship. It is a shame that this mode wasn’t made available off-line in local split-screen.

Graphically Shooter 2 adds very little to the excellent visuals of the first title yet it still looks great with its cartoon style cell-shaded animation and unique environments and baddies. However it never really wows like the first game did purely because it is so similar.

High Frequency Bandwidth once more add the excellent soundtrack with a pumping techno backdrop adding to the intensity of the action. However sometimes the audio could do with a little more subtlety and could do with reflecting the on-screen mood a little more.

Overall Pixel Junk Shooter 2 is a great game that enhances everything the first game had to offer and ramps up the difficulty and puzzles to a whole new level. That said it doesn’t break ground in quite the same way as the first game. Its retro feel will take many back to days-gone-by yet there is enough game here to please even the most demanding of Next-genners.

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