Space Marshals 2 Review — the Mustachioed Space Cowboy is Back!

Space Marshals 2 Review — the Mustachioed Space Cowboy is Back!

Nov 25, 2016

Calm me down as my heart stutters. Space Marshals 2 is here.

See, the first one was awesome. It’s hard to m=nail down why. Was it the space cowboy storyline? The chapter-based gameplay? Or was it the lead character that would have Tom Selleck begging for an autograph? Either way, it is a game that still resonates.

The sequel manages to bring back all that goodness, with a dash of more that makes it even cooler.

The core gameplay remains similar to the first iteration. We get some backstory — our famed Marshal Burton and some comrades are stolen off the marshal transport Artemis while in stasis; they awaken at a mining colony. Seems like there is bounty on the Burton, and some enterprising space bandits are only too happy to collect.

The opening scene helps folks get in on the controls and take in the visuals. With the help pg TAMI, and AI mechanism, the player learns how to control the lead character (through leftwards gestures) and the shooting mechanism (which is by touch/targeting). The player has to roam about, collecting items, working minor puzzles and interacting with people and objects.

The action works through missions which are further broken down into tasks. Each mission as an overarching goal, and there might be additional extras to get at as well. A lot of the action involves taking out space pirates, and there is a logic with regards to the best way to tackle this. They generally roam around, and have a visual field of vision that moves with them. If the player is “seen” by the enemy, they start shooting, and that might bring more baddies running.

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To combat this, the game not only allows Burton to crouch into stealth mode, but he can actually creep around and, if the enemy’s back is turned, can dispatch them quietly. Or, one can take the bull by the horns and come in with guns blazing.

There are goodies to collect, and health and safety bonuses that can be used during missions.

The visuals help make this game pop. Fine animations, a hint of ragdoll physics and the landscape presentation make it all so becoming. Good guys are green, bad red and the oranges can go either way… interesting all round.

It’s hard to come back from a great game with a worthy sequel. This is how it’s done.

Xenowerk Review

Xenowerk Review

Jul 10, 2015

Here’s to Pixelbite’s Xenowerks.

Well, it feels a bit like hit game Space Marshals, that’s okay and very much allowed; sharing DNA with that game ensures that at the very least, we should get of sprinkling of good stuff. And we do, starting from the top-down nature of the view that allows the player to survey and control the action from “above.” The developer uses virtual light as an in-game tool quite effectively, and the overall sense of foreboding is well rendered. The sounds are also sufficiently creepy, seesawing from the eerie to the straight dangerous.

Getting into the action, the backstory in Xenowerk is simple mutant disaster fare: underground lab, secret research and something going down that cuts of communication and cameras. Of course, the area needs to cleansed, and who better than the player to get this accomplished? After getting decked out in basic gear (weapons and armor), one gets to go into the game directly, which, as noted, takes place in an presumably overrun lab.

Just like Space Marshals before it, this game uses a virtual dual stick shooter set of controls to run the player’s character, one for directions and one to shoot. There is a bit of tweaking that can be done — like switching which side either button is on — but for the most part, what you see is what you get. Using these controls, one can investigate the underground labyrinth and finish the leveled missions.

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The main foils in this game are the organic monstrosities that roam the hallways and rooms. Getting too close can be dangerous, as they attack and reduce the players lifeline, causing death if left unabated. Shooting them is the proscribed method, but doing so without incurring damages requires a bit of practice to move and direct firing adequately. As one moves on, the game gets tougher, and one has to adjust to be successful. There are bonuses and other dangers on the ground, but the basic idea is to dispatch the mutants, upgrade weapons and armor and keep moving.

Xenowerk is a familiar caper, in that one knows what one is getting into… mostly. The gameplay isn’t too sophisticated, and that can be a positive or negative depending on the player. The control mechanism can take some getting used to, but is still a nice way to run things.

Reckless Racing 2 Review

Reckless Racing 2 Review

Feb 2, 2012

Reckless Racing 2 is Polarbit and Pixelbite’s latest entry in their top-down racing series, back with new courses, new graphics, and more of the all-terrain the series has been known for. Races take three forms: standard “finish first” races, races where the racer with the fastest lap time wins, regardless of overall position finish, and elimination races where the last place racer is eliminated at the end of each lap. Racers earn money for competing in races, which can be spent on new cars, upgrades, and car design customizations.

The game is packed with dozens of tracks that consist of specific sections of an overall larger area are packed in the game. There are a variety of circuits that have specific performance requirements, meaning that just loading up on upgrades won’t just mean instant success. There’s an adaptive difficulty for those that don’t want to worry about the difficulty they play on, but it can also be configured to the level of the player’s liking manually. In fact, this is a game that’s all about control and customization to a great degree.

Reckless Racing 2 comes with quite possibly the best control configuration mechanic ever. Want manual gas and brake controls with on-screen buttons? Sure! Want to tilt with auto-gas! Go for it! Want to customize the exact positioning and effective areas of each button? No problem! Reckless Racing 2 is the Zombo.com of control configuration.

Both the Career and Arcade modes award money for performance, so it is rarely in short supply. As well, there’s an online multplayer mode for taking on up to 4 players across the game. It works well and is definitely fun to check out.

The game does tend to lag a bit on the Motorola Xoom; the hardware may just not be capable of keeping up with the game’s detail at high-resolution. Options to trim back some of the detail like in Grand Theft Auto 3 would be appreciated. Some of the road textures appear highly compressed at high resolution; this game may just not be all that optimized for tablets at this point. Some of the early circuits tend to advance in difficulty slower than car upgrades can be bought. In fact, pretty much the biggest money drain will be cosmetic upgrades to the cars; don’t spend any money on those and purchasing upgrades is easy.

While the game needs some performance tweaks under the hood, Reckless Racing 2 is an otherwise great racing experience. At worst, every game designer needs to flat-out steal its control configuration, because it’s rare to find a game that allows me to get the controls absolutely perfect the way I want them. Seriously, developers, start including this.