The HD, side-scrolling PlayStation 3 shooter Soldner X: Himmelsstrumer is not only difficult to say but somewhat difficult to play as well. Soldner X revisited the classic days of video gaming with a homage to the R-Types and Gradius’ of yesteryear. SideQuest is going back for more with Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype. The game has finally landed on the PlayStation Network, but does it really deliver? Is the hype justified? Let’s find out.
From the get-go, players are presented with a recap of what has happened thus far in the Soldner-X series, so veterans and new player alike should have no problem hopping right into the action. The game is a side-scrolling shooter with insane amounts of action. One thing you’ll notice from beginning to end is that this game is absolutely gorgeous. Everything, from the animated backdrops, to non-stop action in pretty much every level, will have SD and HD television owners alike salivating over these lush visuals. However the game’s text and tutorials can be painfully hard to read for those without HD displays. Along with fantastic visuals, there is an equally awesome soundtrack, with a techno, yes techno, inspired rhythm that pulls you in, getting progressively better and more intense, and as the action heats up later on, the into music stands out as being quite beautiful. There is no custom soundtrack support for the game, but you almost certainly won’t need it.
But enough about all that other stuff, let’s get into the action! The gameplay for Soldner-X 2 is fairly straightforward and simple, your goal is to navigate your ship through each stage taking out enemy after enemy with boss battles along the way. Sure, the mechanics of it all sound simple, but this is certainly not the case as you progress further and further into the game.
Initially, the game breaks you in by bringing enemy after enemy in one-by-one with small groups here and there, but as you make your way through, things begin to change… big time. You soon find yourself taking on inexplicably large hordes of enemies, all trying to take you out at once, with massive levels of gunfire literally engulfing the screen at times. One thing this game does incredibly well is to keep you on your toes, as you’ll be dodging enemy fire and the enemies themselves, along with asteroids and meteors at a near constant pace throughout the entire game, with small breaks between each stage. Although this may seem to be overwhelming at times as things do get extremely hectic, the game is fairly forgiving with the ability to maneuver through enemy fire being fairly easy and a generous health bar. It takes quite a bit of enemy damage in order for you to die, so proceed with caution and you should be just fine.
Progressing through the game will require careful utilization of power-ups gained throughout each level and knowing when to use each of your three selectable weapons (new weapons can be unlocked). These power-ups range from simple health packs and more power for your weapons to major bonuses which unlock things like shock waves – which emit and explosion in all directions – and limit attacks which massively damage every enemy on-screen in a dazzling explosion of epic destruction, these are pretty awesome. Utilize these weapons and resources wisely and you’ll do just fine.
Earlier I mentioned that you’ll come across boss battles, as each of the seven stages (some stages require ‘secret key’ power-ups to unlock) end with you taking on one of these baddies. Each boss fight has a unique character theme, with the weak points being fairly obvious, and although the amount of fire-power these guys can dish out can be daunting at times, each one of these battles are definitely doable and fairly easy. Replay value is also quite high as there is a local co-op mode (sorry, no online), along with leaderboards, and challenges which require completion in order to unlock new ships, bonuses like extra credits and, of course, trophies.
Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype is an absolute blast and an experience that cannot be missed by arcade and action fans alike. The gameplay will keep you on the edge of your seat and the addictive nature, ability to amp up difficulty and multiplayer aspects will have you coming back for more. This definitely ranks up there with some of the other highly rated PSN titles and can only be described as an instant classic. Hop in your cockpit, it’s time to fly!
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Intense, engaging gameplay
Gorgeous graphics along with an excellent soundtrack
Hefty replay value with a plethora of bonuses and unlockables