Shoot ’em up games are fairly common on the PlayStation Vita. With Sine Mora, Resogun, and numerous other titles, Vita owners have a long list of titles to play if they want fast-paced, bullet-crazy action. Adding to that list is the recently released Söldner-X 2: Final Prototype, a spaceship shooter that is the long awaited sequel to Söldner-X: Himmelsstürmer.
X 2 is extremely similar to its predecessor, featuring bright colors, huge amounts of enemies, and lots of shooting. The plot — well, the little plot that X2 has — is pretty much the same as well, and basically just revolves around the player flying a human made spaceship in order to battle alien spaceships. It’s a basic story, but I doubt anyone was really expecting anything more. No, the real focus of X2 is on the gameplay.
Like any other scrolling shoot ’em up game, the main focus of the game is to kill everything that moves and collect as many points as you can. You do this by essentially just holding down the fire button and dodging brightly colored enemy bullets. There are several different weapons to choose from, including some beam weapons, a few machine gun-like weapons, and some other assorted guns. Each ship, and there are a total of three ships to choose from, although the last one needs to be unlocked, has two unique weapons and a third weapon that can be found in each level. You can quickly switch between your guns at anytime, picking the one that works best against whichever horde of enemies you might be facing at the moment. At the same time, various pickups can be, picked up (duh!), giving the player special bombs that can be used, more health, or an increase in damage output.
There are a total of seven stages (or ten, if you include the day one DLC), and each stage has a mini-boss and an actual boss. Both are generally much larger and have much more health points than the average enemy, as the average fodder is usually small and can be taken down in only a couple of shots. The bosses, as they are so apt to do, appear at the end of each level, and have a pretty lengthy health bar that can only be taken down by shooting certain parts of their spaceships. X2 does a good job of varying up the bosses’ moves and actions, making it hard to find repetitive or predictable behaviors that can be exploited during each boss fight.
Soldner X2 Vita Review -- Time to Shoot Up Some Spaceships
All of this helps make X2 a genuinely fun shooter, but at no point during my time with the game did I really feel satisfied. For one, although enemies and colorful bullets constantly stream the screen, the background is just a repetitive, scrolling image. While that might not sound like a big deal, after a while it made each stage seem dull, and gave X2 the feeling of being a cheaply made Flash game or mobile game. It doesn’t help that the entire game can be completed in about an hour. Yes, players can go back and try to get better scores or complete challenges, such as trying to get through certain levels without taking damage, but there isn’t much incentive to do so. The lack of ship choices and the monotonous backgrounds sort of deplete any motivation to go back and try for a higher score or try to complete the challenges.
While I won’t say to ignore Söldner-X 2: Final Prototype, I will say to carefully consider what you are buying. The game is $10, or $13 if you get it bundled with the DLC, and it can be completed in only an hour or so without giving you a reason to go back to it. At the same time, the gameplay is frantic and fast-paced, and it can a lot of fun to shoot down hordes of alien spaceships. I guess I’ll just leave you with that tough decision.
The review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.