Who doesn’t like a good Shooter? Ok some shooters out there can be punishingly hard, hiding steep learning curves under glossy high res explosions, but don’t be put off. Whether it be retro shapes being slung at you or sophisticated patterns with a pounding backing track there’s nothing better to lose an evening with.
Eastasiasoft return to PlayStation with Soldner-X2: Final Prototype and a perfect port of the 2D PS3 shoot’em up. You’ll be glad to know it runs like a dream. The smooth scrolling screen handles everything with embarrassing ease and tosses out a truly dazzling look. Venture into Ellje Woods and you’ll see for yourself the visual feast that awaits you. The lush green mountainous ancient forest will take your breath away. It’s a class looking act on the handle. Everything on screen can be easily recognized too – what to take out, what to pick up and what to avoid. There’s no excuses in this game for running into a barrage of enemy fire as you mistook the projectiles for something else. Visually, it’s one of of PS Vita’s most gorgeous games, definitely.
Just like all decent shooters Soldner-X2: Final Prototype rolls out a fabulous futuristic story. Your task is to stop the D’aarg from reaching Gota IV and if you’re successful you’re granted a seat in the high senate. To accomplish this there are five stages to rocket through, with a further five to unlock. These levels do seem surprisingly short but where Soldner excels is the way you’re sucked in for more return play and returning never feels like a chore. Collecting secret keys opens up levels six to ten and you’ll need an eye like a hawk to catch them. Some of these magical glowing orbs even come hidden in stalactites and rocks. To put it bluntly – shoot everything, ask questions later. Gameplay is fair as the difficulty is set regarding your ranking, meaning you’ll encounter stronger opposition the higher your ranking. A lower ranking and the game will be less forgiving. Understanding this and other finer points including power ups, wave and chain bonuses, a pop up in game tutorial system flashes up. Here a quick hit on the triangle button explains all.
Shoot’em ups can often be pretty harsh as it’s about skill, practice and dexterity. The massive plus Soldner-X2: Final Prototype has on its side is that your ship can take a good healthy amount of damage. Because of this you can really get to grips with the game and rince out longer playing sessions. Your piloting skills become that little bit more daring too, knowing that it’s not one hit and you’re done for. If you do die, load times are pretty much zero but do entail going thought the menu process. It’s fair to say the game does lack a quick restart option.
As expected, at the end of each level there’s a huge towering boss awaiting you with your ship being dwarfed by the presence of such an impressive boss. Impressive yes, but indestructible, no. Each of the ten bosses are suprisingly easy to defeat and don’t get any harder. There’s no fist in the air and a chance for a celebratory slurp of energy drink as they fall, which is a disappointment. Each boss does have its own thing going on though; targets to hit, eyes to pierce and special moves to dodge. A tap on the right shoulder trigger selects a different weapon meaning the boss threats don’t last too long.
Soldner-X2: Final Prototype also comes kitted out with thirty challenges that unlock. Here you’ll be prowling the deep seas of Turady Deep, roaming the caves of Iya or entering the Inner Core. Levels are varied and gorgeous, but be warned – some of these challenges are not easy. With names like the Invinceble, Rating Expert and Split Pain you may start to sense what you’re in for. Some are timed events, others require a mammoth amount of kills. Either way, they’re all tricky numbers to complete. Completing them however does gets you extra credits, secret weapons, trophies and bonus ships. Among the thirty challenges, half of them come as part of The Last Chapter DLC. This will give you a chance to gain another 11 trophies on top of the 14 trophies already in the main game. Soldner gives you many reasons to return, whether it be to climb the leaderboards or just to hear the hypnotic electronic hymns and the pumping soundtrack. Either way, it’s time well spent.
Where as some shooters create a brick wall you can’t climb over, Soldner-X2: Final Prototype does things differently. Visually beautiful and finely executed, Eastasiasoft have opened up the genre to a wider audience. A fair challenging shooter that blasts big on PS Vita. If you’re into your shooters, look no further.
Lizard rating: 8.5/10