PSN Review – PixelJunk Shooter 2

PixelJunk Shooter 2 is the first sequel from Q-games to be released for their line up of PlayStation Network games. Rather than releasing an expansion pack as they have in the past for their other PixelJunk titles, the developer decided to make enough new content to warrant an entirely new game. Thus arises the question, does the new game accomplish all its predecessor did, and more? Find out in our review of PixelJunk Shooter 2.

Q-games is known for creating fun games by taking classic game elements and putting their own twist on it to create a unique experience. When they released PixelJunk Shooter in 2009, it was hailed as one of the best PSN titles of the year by many. This left the team at Q-games with the daunting task of not only producing an equally great game, but improving upon their formula.

PixelJunk Shooter 2 picks up exactly where its predecessor left off, not only with plot and location, but with the complexity of levels and difficulty. This is not to say that the game is overly hard, but there is no hand holding here. From the very first moment you are placed in immediate danger, landing in a pool of acid which eats away at your ship while within the bowels of a subterranean monster. To survive you must quickly find a pool of water to wash your ship off, while navigating the dangerous tunnels that make up your host creature’s digestive tract. This sudden introduction to the first new fluid of the game isn’t the first time you’ll be caught in a trap, since every level of the game is packed full of surprising challenges, and new mechanics to keep you thinking and trying to act quickly.

Progressing through levels still hinges upon rescuing survivors distributed throughout them. Each level is divided into sections, and saving or killing every survivor unlocks the exit for the section. Each survivor that dies uses a life, with 5 lives for every level. If your ship dies it does not use a life, merely punishing the player by forcing them to restart the current section, making the immediate difficulty very forgivable. Hidden crystals also make a return, with about a dozen hidden in each level, and a set amount must be found to unlock the final level in each of the three episodes of the game. This is no different from the original PixelJunk Shooter, however this time there is a definite reward for finding all the crystals, and so it is highly recommended to keep an eye out for them.

All the old fluids and elements from the previous game make a return, such as lava, magnetic fluid, explosive gas, and various suits that bestow new abilities upon the ship. However, the puzzles and challenges have a further depth to their complexity due to mixing of new and old fluids, creating new behavior and interactions. As mentioned earlier, acid slowly eats away at the ship, increasing its heat gauge. Bubbles are  eventually encountered, which sends the ship out of control, requiring the player to grab nearby objects in an attempt to change course. Shooting the bubbles causes them to burst, but dousing them in water turns them back into acid. If the bubbles encounter lava, they transform the lava, proliferating more bubbles in a fiery inferno. This is just a few of the many ways PixelJunk Shooter 2 combines new with old, diversifying and layering upon an already great experience.

Eventually light and darkness begin to factor heavily into gameplay. You’ll find yourself flying through darkened areas, where creatures will begin to attach to your ship and destroy it. Finding a light source to use will be necessary not only to survive, but is also required to rescue survivors, since you can’t grab anything hidden in the dark. The mechanics here are well thought out, and multiple ways to light up the levels can be found as progress is made. This includes simply shooting to create a hole in the ceiling, or utilizing large piles of lava in clever way, and even finding the new light suit which equips your ship with a headlamp. Danger still awaits while the light suit is equipped, so prepare yourself to move fast, and try not to get lost!

While trying to rescue your friends in distress, enemies will frequently ambush you. Precise shooting is required to eliminate them without accidentally murdering your allies. Luckily a new attack, the spin dash, makes short work of nearby foes. Rotating the right analog stick quickly spins the ship, cooling it, and attracting any point icons nearby. Clicking the right analog in while doing this causes the ship to dash towards nearby enemies, destroying them without damaging the survivors. It’s an important and welcome maneuver, allowing for more hectic and intense battles.

Each of the three episodes of the game contain five levels, with the final level of each climaxing with an epic boss fight. Every one presents even more new challenges, requiring careful navigation, precise shooting, and brainpower to figure out how to defeat them. They all have multiple forms, and serve as a great reminder of what great boss battles should be. By the end of it all, about eight to ten hours will have probably been spent playing, and depending on skill level, perhaps even more.  If you’re worried this won’t leave you satisfied, then fear not. PixelJunk Shooter 2 also has a great multiplayer mode too, adding replayability through strategic battles. continue reading >>