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Cascade Arcade: PixelJunk Shooter 2 Review

On March 1, Q-Games released the long-awaited sequel to their popular side-scrolling, twin-stick shoot-and-rescue PSN puzzle game, PixelJunk Shooter, and the second offering in the series does not disappoint. Despite promising fans the game before the end of 2010, the added development time appears to have gone to good use, as the game adds plenty of variety while keeping the focus just as tight as ever.

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By Joel Smart (Sports Editor) – Email

On March 1, Q-Games released the long-awaited sequel to their popular side-scrolling, twin-stick shoot-and-rescue PSN puzzle game, PixelJunk Shooter, and the second offering in the series does not disappoint. Despite promising fans the game before the end of 2010, the added development time appears to have gone to good use, as the game adds plenty of variety while keeping the focus just as tight as ever.

Q-Games has made a name for itself, creating some of the best downloadable games the PlayStation Store has to offer. The PixelJunk Series includes Monsters and Eden, both of which have received Encore editions with new levels and gameplay options. Shooter 2 is the first true sequel to a PixelJunk game, however, offering an experience larger than the original game itself.

The cliffhanger ending to the first game in the series is the opening scene in Shooter 2, and the game carries on without missing a beat. To say that there is a story in the game, though, is a bit of an exaggeration. Just like in the first, the primary objective is to use your spaceship equipped with machine guns, homing missiles, and a grappling hook to rescue trapped miners in the depths of a distant, enemy-infested planet.

The variety keeps the game fresh and interesting right till the end. Like the original, Shooter 2 is a relatively short game, taking about four hours to complete on the initial play-through. However, there are a large number of hidden items and the option of co-op play to keep you coming back – not to mention the new, ranked online versus mode that will keep fans of the game busy for months to come.

Though the online mode has the depth to cultivate a community of regular players, the real fun of the game comes from the local co-op play through the story campaign. In the first of the three episodes, players must escape from the belly of a great beast. The levels are incredibly organic, with new liquids and substances to interact with and use to solve puzzles.

The fluids in the game are beautiful to watch, fun to play around with, and crucial to survival and escape – but they can also be deadly. They range from your basic lava, flammable gasses and ice to the new and terrifying re-growing jelly that quickly fills a level, to bubbling purple stomach acid that makes steering impossible.

Right from the start the game is far more difficult that the first in the series. Fortunately, players do not have to do a perfect job to make it through, though they can come back later to replay each level and try to do a better job, saving more miners or finding hidden diamonds they missed. Inexperienced gamers may ultimately struggle to make it to the end of the game without a serious investment of energy.

The final episode will inspire night terrors, as it brings light and dark into the mix. Get caught in the dark too long and nightmarish creatures will begin attaching themselves onto the player’s ship and can only be shook off in the light. Special suits in the game allow players to go into the lava that usually overheats the ship, or to shoot blasts of water to solve puzzles, but in the final episode a light suit is introduced, and functions like a flashlight in the dark, adding to the mood even further.

Ultimately, Shooter 2 successfully builds on the structure of the first game, and for ten bucks, it shouldn’t be missed.

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