PixelJunk Shooter 2 Review

PixelJunk Shooter 2

Q Games has made a habit of producing many small and simple, yet refined and widely appealing downloadable titles with their PixelJunk lineup. For the first time, the developer has chosen to put together a full-fledged sequel to one of the games, and it’s very clear why: PixelJunk Shooter 2, like its predecessor, offers a sound and satisfying shooter experience whose unique take on the genre makes it something most gamers will not want to miss.

Unlike typical shooters, which the game appears to be at first glance thanks to its twin-stick-plus-triggers control scheme, PJS2 values player patience and forethought over a frantic pace and twitch-response play. It also brings into the equation excellent physics and interaction between a variety of different fluid substances, giving it special design hooks players can’t find anywhere else.

Piloting an airborne/submarine ship equipped with a blaster (R1) and grappling chain (R2), players must rescue stranded survivors from a number of hostile environments, beginning in the belly of a giant monster and continuing through caves, industrial complexes, and other claustrophobic locales. What makes these places so dangerous is the magnificent array of horrible substances found within; ice, magma, poison gas, incendiary clouds, and ‘magnetic death oil’ are but a few items on the menu, not to mention the population of baddies shooting at the ship throughout the mission. Losing ships doesn’t actually matter, but too many survivor deaths will result in a game over.

PixelJunk Shooter 2

As far as the ship is concerned, that being what players have direct control over, enemies are the least of one’s worries. They are well spaced and allow players to proceed cautiously, for the most part. The real threat comes from the heat that is produced by the aforementioned environmental elements and the ship’s own missiles, which can only be fired by holding down R1. Contact with any of the game’s fairly abundant supply of water will cool the ship instantly, and the majority of play is focused on using the ship’s tools to manipulate the environment and direct the various fluids to keep it and the survivors safe long enough to scoop them up. This design makes players have to consistently slow down and consider how, where, and when to proceed. Occasionally that measured pace is hurried by unstoppable flows of nastiness, setting the stage for entertaining escape sequences, although those events don’t happen terribly often.

More routinely, PSJ2 diversifies play via special "suits" that alter the ship’s capabilities. The effects include letting it shoot streams of water or magma, reversing its magnetic or thermal properties, and allowing it to ‘eat’ through parts of the environment. Each suit lasts only for the section of the stage in which it is found, but all of them dramatically alter the way the game is played while active. Boss fights also change things up a bit; their scale, spectacle, and challenge are refreshing capstones for each of the game’s distinct areas.

To PixelJunk Shooter veterans, this all sounds like nothing new, but the game has added new substances, enemies, and suits, a competitive online multiplayer mode, and Score Attack ghosts that can be uploaded for friends to challenge. Aside from that, the game is lengthier and more challenging than the original, both qualities being direct responses to the primary criticisms of the first game.

It is what sets PixelJunk Shooter 2 apart that makes it so appealing. Rather than leaving players blasting away indiscriminately, the game introduces more complex and engaging design based around its excellent fluid dynamics, inviting us to invest greater mental energy into our play. It looks and sounds great, has tight, responsive controls, and costs just $10. What’s not to like?

4 out of 5


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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