Brilliant fun, with appropriate length for the price
There have been more than a few good downloadable 2D games to come out this generation. The best of all of them might be PixelJunk Shooter. It is a colorful and stylish dual stick shooter, with lots of great puzzles, excellent fluid physics, and a great soundtrack. The most common flaw pointed out for this game is its length, but even that isn’t bad for the price. If you overlooked this gem back in 2009, it should be next on your “to do” list for downloadable PS3 games.
Pixeljunk Shooter is another one of those games that doesn’t look like a lot on the surface, and it does take a little while to get going. You control a little ship that can shoot stuff and pick up stuff with a grappling hook. Your task is to navigate each level and rescue survivors, while avoiding all kinds of environmental hazards and enemies. Levels are filled with destructible rock walls, ice, lava, water, explosive gas, and magnetic oil. These substances provide you with all kinds of obstacles to overcome. A boss battle punctuates the end of each chapter.
What makes Pixeljunk Shooter so great is that it is a perfect blend of skill and puzzle solving. Every level provides you with some enemies to defend yourself against, The various fluids in the game provide some ingenius new game mechanics, which you will use to your advantage. Water dumped on lava makes rock, which you can tunnel through. Water dumped on oil makes explosive gas. Lava dumped on ice melts the ice. The game also provides you with the occasional suit that allows you to shoot water or lava directly. It takes these simple mechanics and combines them in all sorts of brilliant ways, keeping the game fresh right up until the end. Other than maybe the first few screens, there is not one boring minute in the game. It is always fun, and when you finish each level, you will always to be eager to see what the next one looks like.
Another somewhat useful mechanic is your ship’s “health” bar, which is really just an overheating indicator. If you take a shot from an enemy or get too close to lava, you start to overheat. You can cool off by finding a pool of water or retreating for a while. This mechanic provides more variety in the challenges that you face.
The most impressive (and underappreciated) part about the gameplay is the superb fluid physics. I have yet to see a game that models liquids so wonderfully. Fluids flow realistically, with the force that you would expect. You can take advantage of these flows in some clever ways. For instance, you can shoot at water or lava to redirect it onto enemies or other fluids.
An excellent presentation adds to the robust physics engine and the action/puzzle gameplay. Although the graphical technology is not impressive, the artwork is colorful and outstanding. The soundtrack features about five or six great techno tracks that communicate sort of an easygoing vibe. Speaking of easygoing, the game, in general, is pretty easy. The second boss is a bit tough, but other than that, there aren’t many frustrating moments.
PixelJunk Shooter didn’t get enough credit for its innovative and well-polished gameplay. It is a really fun game, and it is easy on the eyes and the ears. The 2D Renaissance that we are currently enjoying during this generation of hardware has seen some good games. If you ask me, this one is the best.