Back in the early eighties, when I was a wee lad, I remember the days of going to the local pizzeria and feeling intoxicated by the smell of pizza as well as the site and sounds of electronic entertainment. In those days, a pizzeria wasn’t just a place to dine on overpriced pizza, but it was like entering a new world, a world of dreamscapes powered by graphics, pixels and primitive digitized music. This is where I started to play games like Galaga, Space Invaders, and a few years later Life Force.
One thing that these classics had in common were that they were the advent of the 80s space shooter, a category of gaming that I have always loved. The space shooter would evolve in the 90s with games like Raystorm, R-Type 3, Gradius 3 and 4, and the Raiden series. However, in the post 2000 era, the space shooter was in danger of becoming a relic of gaming history. However, with great services like Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, we now have a glimmer of hope for the space shooter. The newest addition to this form of neo-retro gameplay is a game called Soldner X2 Final Prototype.
Soldner X2 is a new addition to the PSN library and most specifically a horizontal shooter. You are the pilot of the newest model of the Soldner X space-fighter, a ship with multiple weapons systems. Twenty years after the Virus Wars comes a new enemy in that of the evil race the D’aagg. However, the story is not the reason why you would want to play this game, but to the feel the exhilaration of deep space combat.
The gameplay to Soldner X2 is very solid and crisp; I found the combat to be tighter than the original Soldner X. You will fight battles in outer space, cityscapes, industrial complexes, and even underwater. The graphics are so incredible that I will urge fans of horizontal shooters to show me any other shoot-em-up that looks as gorgeous as Soldner X2. This is truly the HD era for neo-retro games and it never looked better.
Another thing that I love about this game is the just the way that the level designs are implemented and how the camera behaves around them. One minute you will be flying on a horizontal plane and the next thing you know, the camera and perspective is swinging into a vertical bank. This can be disorienting sometimes, but it just adds so much to the immersion to the game.
This great game contains five primary stages and two hidden stages. You can receive an ending credits roll after you complete stage five, however you will not get a true ending until you beat stage 7, by which you must discover four hidden keys in the six proceeding stages.
Final Protype is filled to the rim with extras that will have you coming back for more. Between unlocking new stages and extra credits via challenges, you will be hard pressed to find that extra key or collect one more ring. I found that the special challenges to be very difficult and just about as addicting as the main game itself.
The sound of Soldner X2 is just as awesome as the graphics. Sound effects roar and rock in parallel with voice work, thus making the urgency of space combat come to life. This is truly a game that you will want to turn your surround sound speakers all the way up. Of course, the true star in the sound department has to go to the soundtrack. The sound of electronic trance music with a side order of new age and a speckle of landscape, make for a delicious dish for the ears. I strongly urge you to find a soundtrack to this game and support the composer.
In conclusion, I find that Soldner X2 to be one of my favorite horizontal shooters ever made. This just might give Gradius V (my favorite horizontal shooter) a run for its money, well worth the price of admission.
Review copy provided by publisher.