It has been a while since many of us played the first instalment in PixelJunk’s Shooter series. So, it’s sensible that the second game starts off with a quick recap of your mission and how the first episode ended. For those of you who are yet to finish the first episode, we’ll do our best to avoid spoilers here.
The basics of the game remain unaltered, essentially you control a small craft on a rescue mission. Your left analogue stick controls the motion while your right stick will control the direction in which your ship is facing. There is a shoulder button to fire your weapon and another to send out your grabber to pick up items.
The aim of the game is also identical: rescue as many survivors as possible while shooting the bad guys and interacting with various fluids. There are puzzles and tricky action sequences to traverse and the controls have the same lovely feeling of weighty inertia that existed in the previous episode.[boxout]That’s not to say there aren’t new aspects to the gameplay though. In our limited time with the game we’ve already found bubbles which don’t allow changes in ship direction, new kinds of switches, rapidly encroaching green stuff and a brand new liquid: acid.
Essentially just another dynamic fluid like lava and water, this material coats your ship and triggers a countdown until it corrodes your hull and uses up a life. The only way to counteract it (so far, we’re only on the first few levels) is to dunk yourself in some water. Already this has caused a few frantic races through tight tunnels to find a pool and one or two timed runs past acid-spouting geysers. The interaction between water and bubbles creates acid too, so there’s another level of material abuse you’ll have to keep in mind.
With the addition of new liquids and new interactions between them, this looks like another winner for PixelJunk. Far from falling into the trap of delivering another episode featuring more of the same game play that was popular in the first, there seems to be plenty of new stuff here, even at this early stage. We think that approach will appeal to the many fans of the previous episode as well newcomers to the series who shouldn’t have any significant issues with getting to grips with things.
Another hugely improved aspect seems to be the multiplayer portion of the game. Much improved from the simple local cooperative play that existed in the original (and is still here in this episode), there is now a rather large scale online 2-player competitive side too. We couldn’t test it properly in time for this preview (nobody else is playing yet!) but it seems to have a fairly comprehensive upgrade system with credits being earned in the league mode making the purchase of ship upgrades such as better weapons and means of subterfuge possible. These upgrades can then be used in league matches (ranked) or Friend Battles (unranked).
Each game in the multiplayer mode consists of defensive and offensive turns with slightly different limitations and advantages for the players in each role. It seems to be an interesting game mode that doesn’t just follow the well-trodden path of “deathmatch” style multiplayer.
We’ll be back with a full review just as soon as we’re allowed but so far, it seems like a perfect second instalment, especially after the amount of time we’ve waited for it. Building on the first’s most endearing qualities while adding enough that it almost feels like an entirely new game. All this praise and we didn’t even have to mention the Pac-Man-esque “Hungry Suit”