Review: PixelJunk Shooter
Release Date: December 10th, 2009
Players: 1-2 (local)
What I liked:
- Excellent liquid physics gives a whole new gameplay challenge I’ve never quite seen before.
- Fantastic controls that feel dead-on right.
- Great music and visual style, and fun co-op.
- Support for many extra PS3 features, including YouTube/XMB recording and screenshots.
What I disliked:
- Missing the extreme difficulty of most PixelJunk games (note: might be a good thing for some obviously).
- Feels like a bit of a departure from the PixelJunk brand as a whole.
- Could have really used a little bit more content to round out the package.
PixelJunk up to this point has been so varied in genres and art styles that you don’t really know what to expect from the next game in the series. There was a racer, a platformer, a tower defense game, and now Shooter, the fourth entry into this mini-powerhouse franchise.
What has felt standard up to this point are a few things: the next PixelJunk game will be incredibly difficult in a great old-school kinda way, and will feel like a full experience yet will have you wanting an Encore DLC expansion pack like Eden and Monsters got. Shooter, in a very bold move by Q-Games, is not really difficult at all or quite a full experience, opting to go with an “episodic” pace instead (get ready for a cliffhanger ending). Given that PixelJunk has had no real use for a storyline in any of the series games, this just feels like a complete departure from the philosophy that I had thought the franchise was going for.
But I don’t really care about all that as long as the game works and is fun to play, which it most certainly is. Going through three episodes with five areas each (and several levels per area), you must control a ship that battles the forces of water, lava, smoke and oil, as you rescue crewmen and mine for diamonds. If you kill more than five men, you start the area over from the beginning, but you have infinite lives for your ship. There are secrets galore and a good pace with each area, and some really fantastic music. You can tell that Q-Games was so enamored with their liquid physics that they crammed it into every possible place they could, and I’m glad they did, because it’s just too damn awesome to manipulate water and lava against each other.
What I find interesting is the difficulty — because Shooter is “episodic” I get the feeling Q-Games wanted people to actually beat this game (I’m one of the few who mastered Monsters and got fairly far in Racers, but only got to the third area in Eden before giving up completely), which lowers the amount of hours spent beating this game. It’s kind of a drag for me, but I know a lot of people who really disliked the PixelJunk hardcore difficulty mentality that will love this news. Plus you can go back and get all the diamonds and crewmen you might have missed for extra Trophies, which is very challenging in itself.
There’s such a fine line between being left wanting more and feeling like you’re entitled to more. Shooter is just a hair short of feeling like a full experience with only three different episodes and somewhat breezy difficulty in beating the game, but it still has enough strong original gameplay and atmosphere to warrant a purchase. Don’t miss this game.
This game was purchased for review purposes.