The story of an alien invasion has been told countless times, and all have one thing in common. The inhabitants of the invaded planet will fight back with everything they’ve got to defend their home. Shortbreak Studios The Collider 2 isn’t different in that regard, but does diverge to show the defence in a slightly different way, with a lone ship racing through the insides of an alien mothership to stop it from down orbital strikes on the planet’s surface.
The Collider 2 is a game that challenges you from the off, as you control the ship and try to avoid the obstacles that will end your run should you crash into them. You’ll have to make the ship pass through gaps in walls, line it up with moving targets, and avoid closing doors while trying to get from one end of a stage to the other as quickly as possible. While that is the main thrust of the story mode, that isn’t all you’re tasked with doing.
There are different mission types that do include speed runs, but could also push you to collect intel or destroy a number of targets. In a fast paced game such as The Collider 2 you may be wondering how you even have time to destroy a target you may pass by you in a flash. Thankfully, all you have to do is get the target in your sights and the game auto fires for you, which allows you to concentrate on the next part of the route. Leave it too late and there will be times when a target’s destruction obscures your view, and that momentary impediment can be the difference between success and failure.
You’ll also use the ship’s weapons in the boss fights that occur at the end of a sector. These fights follow the same general pattern where you need to destroy a sentry, which means firing on its weak points, while trying to avoid incoming fire in the form of lasers and mines. They require all of your skill and fast reflexes, with every second counting. You may be able to dodge all the obstacles, but if you’re not targeting and firing away as well, time will run out and you’ll fail.
Each of the missions follow the now standard three medal rewards system. Perform well and you’ll get all three, but perform poorly and just about manage to scrape through and you’ll only net a single medal. The amount of medals you collect does have a bearing, as you can’t move on from a sector until you have the required amount. You also can’t skip a stage and come back to it later on, as each mission is only unlocked once you have completed the previous one. It makes The Collider 2 feel quite punishing, especially if you get stuck on a level for what feels like an age. An alternative could have been either let you skip a level at the cost of some points or having all levels up to a boss fight open to you, so there is player choice on how to tackle a sector.
Outside of the main missions is the survival mode, which unlocks once you reach player level eight. There’s no end to the tunnel that you have to fly through, with the difficulty building the further you go. This mode has you competing with the rest of the world on a leaderboard, and rewarded depending on where you rank. The score is calculated by how far you go and how often you use the ship’s boost ability, which makes the game even faster and trickier. Survival is where you’re truly tested. The points you earn here can help unlock new ships, improve a ships stats, or improve one of the pick ups you could get in the run.
The pick ups can help immensely when going through a stage. For example, the shield will let you pass through walls for a limited time without risk of crashing. There’s also a cooling effect which allows for unlimited boost, while the magnet will pick up coins that you might have missed as you pass them by. There are also multiplier pick ups to help boost the value of points you earn.
The Collider 2 has three different camera types with these being a distant 3rd person view of the ship, a close up 3rd person view, and first person. Out of the three, first person seems the most accurate and best to use, because you can focus on getting your little aiming dot through spaces, in comparison to the two third person views which took away from the accuracy.
You can play using a gamepad, mouse, or with VR, as we tried out recently. The gamepad felt the most cumbersome, despite trying to adjust the settings in game, while the mouse is a lot more responsive to quick movement, and with the boost being binded to the left key it feels like a tighter control scheme in general. However having experienced the game in VR, I believe it is the best way to play, because this is where the game is most responsive. There is no real proxy between moving your head and dodging an incoming laser, with reactions being instantaneous. That won’t be an option for most though, so stick with a mouse over a gamepad.
The Collider 2’s visual presentation is nicely done, with the alien ship attacking the planet as you sit at the start screen, and the transition into the mission of your ship taking off and entering the alien vessel. It’s all very smooth and while the tunnels themselves don’t have huge colour variation, the changes in each mean you’ll spot new things, like the walls going from solid to a more fluid design. The soundtrack evokes some classic sci fi themes as well, really adding to the overall atmosphere.
The Collider 2 is an excellent game when you just want to pick up and play something for a small amount of time, but investing longer stretches of time can lead to a build up of frustration, as you crash again and again. The unlock style of the mission mode feels restrictive and counters the fast paced nature of the action, with the Survival mode providing a much better alternative. Just be sure to try and use a mouse or VR controls to get the best out of this fun and fast game.