GOONL!NE Review: PixelJunk Shooter

Developer: Q-Games
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Also on: N/A (PS3 Exclusive)
Console Played On: PlayStation 3
Release Date: December 10th 2009
Age Rating: Rating Pending

PixelJunk Shooter is the fourth in the series of PixelJunk games from Q-Games, each of the previous games providing lots of fun, in part down to the simple mechanics of the games, Racers being what the title suggests, racing, and Monsters revolving around the concept of tower defense and Eden being a platformer with puzzle elements thrown in. Now comes Shooter, and it is what it says on the tin to a degree, a shooter.

Much like the other titles, it’s very easy to grow fond of Shooter, there is a certain character to the game that really endears itself to you. The story is simple, some brave miners have got stuck deep underground after their operation goes awry, and it’s up to you to save them. The game is split into three distinct worlds, with each about five levels in each, and none outstay their welcome. Shooter has a gradual but still reasonably quick learning curve which helps those not used to simple 2D arcadey shooters to be bedded in well.

The controls are delightfully simple, Shooter is pick up and play gameplay at it’s best. You use the left analogue stick to propel your little ship through various environments such as ice and volcanic areas, and if you hold the right analogue stick in the same direction as the left, you go faster. Simples.

Shooting is controlled by either using R1 or R2 (holding down the shoot button produces more dangerous rockets, dangerous to both enemies and your ship as holding it too long will overheat it), and your grapple for picking up stranded miners, diamonds and other items is controlled by either using L1 or L2. And that’s about it, there is nothing complicated to be found, and that in essence what helps to make the game all the more fun.

The single player is highly enjoyable, but to get the most out of Shooter, get a mate to play along with you by jumping into the co-operative mode. Working together can reap benefits, say for instance you’re both holding off a mini army of bad guys near a pool of lava, the co-op mode enables one of you to retreat to cool off before you overheat whilst the other holds them off (providing he ain’t in too bad shape himself).

That all sounds lovely, working together to attain a common objective between the two of you, but Shooter does give you the chance to be a complete cock to the person you’re playing with. The little miners you’re supposed to be rescuing can die so easily, one shot from your ship and he’s history. Feeling pissed off that your friend just killed one of the little blighters? No problem. If there happens to be some lava near-by above him, why not just shoot away the rock that’s holding it back and douse him in it? That’ll teach him.

The enemies you encounter are the usual PixelJunk fare; except for these little fish type creatures that’d jump out of the bedrock as you pass by. They’re not to be underestimated, almost as fast as your are, they shoot out this gooey stuff that even after they’re dead continues to follow you, linger to long and you’ll be engulfed in it and meet a sticky demise.

Shooter is more than just a standard 2D shooter, the exploration and puzzle-solving give it good diversity over something like Blast Factor. By bringing the water into contact with lava, you can cool it and shoot your way through it to save trapped miners that’d be other wise impossible to get to. There are a multitude of ways to get the water to come into contact with the lava. You can use the grappling hook on your ship to pick up little water bombs to drop on it, or to pick up sponges to fill up and douse the lava.

For a game that has a simple air to it graphically, the physics of the fluids are impressive and it does look rather excellent in 1080p. There is a catchy soundtrack accompanying the game by High Frequency Bandwidth but if it’s not to your taste, Q-Games have included Custom Soundtracks than can be accessed from the XMB. The game also supports direct video recording, and you’ve the option to just save it to the XMB or to directly upload your captured footage to YouTube to show off to the world.

Final Thoughts: Shooter is another quality entry into the PixelJunk series from Q-Games. Criticisms of the game are few and far between, it could maybe do with being a tad longer, an extra world or two wouldn’t have gone amiss, and there is little replay value unless you want to either 100% the trophy list for it or see your name at the top of the online rankings.

DLC should hopefully be on the way to address the length issue if the end credits are anything to go by, and the fact that both Monsters and Eden received an Encore pack, it’d be highly probable to see Shooter get the same. Bar those little niggles, Shooter joins games like Flower and Super Stardust HD as one of the best titles on the PlayStation Store.

Gameplay: 10 – Highly playable. Clever boss-fights, puzzle solving and good-old straightforward shooting baddies makes it a blast to play, just a shame it wasn’t longer.

Sound: 8 – Soundtrack is catchy and with the option to use your own songs if you wish all bases are covered.

Graphics: 9 – Bright and cheery, the game looks superb with no drab areas to be found.

Overall: 9 – After the slightly disappointing Eden, Q-Games are back on track with another hit PSN title. If you’ve got a few quid spare, this is definitely worth the investment.

For more gameplay videos and screenshots head to our earlier article.