Review: PixelJunk Shooter (PS3)December 15th, 2009 | Written by Chris Selogy | Topic: PlayStation 3, Reviews
It’s been quite a while since we’ve seen a new PixelJunk game from Q-Games, which has mostly been due to terrific support for PixelJunk Monsters and Eden along with the PSP port of Monsters in the past year. PixelJunk Shooter is their latest game in the popular series of PSN game that coincidentally is their take on the shooter genre, particularly in the vein of games like Gravitar and Sub-Terrania. The result is another great PixelJunk game that leaves us wanting more when it’s over.
PixelJunk Shooter is the first game in the series that actually has a story, though it doesn’t shove it down your throat if you’re not interested. The story here is about humanity’s rapid expansion into space while searching for resources when this mining company comes upon a planet called Apoxus Prime that has great potential for energy. Of course, it’s never as easy as it seems, so things go wrong and you’re tasked with rescuing the miners that have been stranded throughout the mines. There are special miners hidden in each of the levels that can provide further back story and they even hint at an epic ending that seems like it was reserved for the inevitable Encore add-on. Though the levels are divided into episodes, this isn’t an episodic game since it’s just a fancy way of describing the three main areas.
Though PixelJunk Shooter may have some similarities with Gravity Crash, another recent PSN release, the two games offer vastly different gameplay experiences. A normal level usually entails collecting miners or gems with your tow cable, shooting rock to move through the environment and kill enemies that appear, and dealing with the fluids you come across and using them to your advantage. The miners are the key to progression as once you’ve collected or killed all of them, the exit to the next part of the level opens up. The campaign of 15 levels is on the easy side with the only times we died where usually due to messing around or during a boss fight, but there is a good amount of replay value with co-op and getting 100% of the miners and gems that are scattered throughout the levels.
The fluids in PixelJunk Shooter that you can interact with start off with basics like water and magma before you’re introduced to new things that feed into this elaborate physics puzzle that most of these levels feature. Rather than a health bar, your ship’s health is determined by a temperature gauge that fills up when you get close to magma or any of the other . There are cool suits that affect how you can interact with these fluids and can be as useful as they are deadly since you can easily kill yourself with the magma suit if you’re not careful. As if the pools of water or magma weren’t enough, there are slugs that contain a lot of water or magma when you need them along with a special sponge that can soak up a ton of whatever fluid you need for added control over these fluids.
PixelJunk Shooter features a very simple control scheme that isn’t quite a dual-stick shooter, but the main difference is that shooting is relegated to a separate button. Compared to Gravity Crash, this is much more simple game to control since gravity and momentum isn’t really a part of the equation, as far as your controls are concerned. With a second person playing along side you, there’s as much of an aspect of teamwork as there is one for screwing each other over, which will really show who is mature or immature amongst the two of you. It’s too bad that there isn’t a difficulty option or some type of challenge mode for those that are well-versed in this kind of game. For extras, the requisite options to record video to upload to Youtube and Remote Play support are here, which is probably the only chance you’ll get to play Shooter on the PSP.
The PixelJunk series is known for each iteration have its own unique art style and PixelJunk Shooter is not any different. There is a great style that is simple and detailed at the same time along with the fluids being cel-shaded. The fluids look fantastic as it moves about as realistically as you’d expect and it has a nice cel-shaded kind of style to it that helps give drops some definition since there aren’t really any edges on anything or anyone in this game. There is a good use of rag doll animation for the miners when they die, which adds a bit of sadness whenever you allow them to die. The soundtrack does a good job of adding some drama to the action and doesn’t make it as light-hearted and silly as something like PixelJunk Monsters, though the XMB custom soundtrack feature is unlocked from the start of the game if you wish to listen to something else.
PixelJunk Shooter is another great game in this series, though it’s an experience that ends quite a bit sooner than its predecessors that left us wanting more in the best way possible. It’s about a good five hours to just get through all 15 levels and there’s more potential time required to just get the remaining miners and gems you missed for the 100% trophies, so this definitely has enough replay value to be worth the $10 price tag. Unless you need a demo first before buying a PSN game, there’s no reason to skip out on one of the best PSN games of the year.