By: Uma Smith
Look to the sky! There’s an asteroid that’s about to hit our planet. What do you do? Now those that chose to duck and cover, I strongly advise you (and I emphasize the word “strongly”) to try out Solar 2, an XBLIG title released by Murudai. It will give you a better understanding of celestial objects and hopefully some common sense!
You take control of an asteroid with the aim of colliding with other asteroids to get larger, thereby increasing your health and XP. However, if you crash into an object that’s bigger than you or get hit by weapons, you size decreases until you eventually explode.
Moving your object is completely straightforward using the left stick. That said, you’ll have to be aware of the physics involved: when you pass by a planet that’s bigger than you, you’ll notice a gravitational pull that affects how you move. It is important to incorporate this concept as it’ll help propel your asteroid in the direction you want.
You begin with a variety of missions to choose from. For example, some require you to crash into a particular object or spaceship as the goal while others will have you avoiding any incoming attacks.
The great thing about Solar 2 is that you have choices — there are a number of designated areas in space you must reach in order to access the mission. Whatever you decide, you have plenty of opportunities to test your different skills and abilities.
When you die, which will happen on numerous occasions, Solar 2 gives you a few options for respawning. Essentially, you can start from the beginning as an asteroid or continue on as any celestial object that you have grown into. Additionally, you can save your current state at any point, making it very convenient for players that cannot wait until they reach a checkpoint before leaving the game.
The beauty of Solar 2 is how the gameplay totally changes as you progress. At the next level of growth, you become a planet. This time, your objective is to get asteroids to gravitate into your orbit rather than crashing into them. When you get enough of them, you’ll grow life on your planet.
Survive long enough and the life within your planet will evolve. As a result, civilizations will develop leading to the creation of ships, which will attack anything that isn’t attached to you. Progressing further will get you a shield that protects you from damage, as well as laser cannons. This time around, the more you advance, the more powerful your weapons will become.
However, it doesn’t stop there. Solar 2‘s gameplay literally becomes “stellar” as you change into a star. Although life will be diminished, you can now capture planets into your orbit. On these planets, life can once again flourish, which will get you a shield around your star. Eventually you orbiting civilizations will develop a destructive nature, thereby turning you into a “death star.” Now that’s hot!
Once again, the gameplay shifts as you continue to expand. This time, you actually collapse and turn into a black hole. Since there is nothing that can destroy you other than a black hole that is bigger than you, you’ll continue to absorb anything in your path except for these larger black holes, which are indicated by red arrows. Now that sucks!
So then what’s after that? Well, you start all over. Basically, you have an interesting yet simple concept behind the game. It will keep you engaged for a long while as you try to determine how much you can make object grow.
You shouldn’t expect to hear a whole lot of sound effects in Solar 2. Instead, you get a soothing soundtrack playing in the background as the frequent crashes and collisions taking place. The lack of bass fails to immerse players in this atmosphere, but realistically, in space, there shouldn’t be any sound at all.
Visually, Solar 2‘s minimalist approach succeeds. Within the background of the vast darkness of space, you’ll see lighting and color from celestial objects, including planets. When you get a collection of these objects on screen, the presentation is pretty amazing. It’s as beautiful as looking at the night sky. Perhaps it could even be romantic if it weren’t for all the collisions and firing weapons.
Solar 2‘s simplicity coupled with its unique game design is what makes this XBLIG title worthy of recognition. For 400 MS Points ($5), you’ll be able to immerse yourself in an experience that is literally “out of this world.”
Maybe you hadn’t heard of Solar 2 prior to this, but it’s a pretty cool title and was recently named to The PAX 10, which is quite an honor. However, I can see skepticism on some of the faces in the crowd. You want to try it yourself… and for free no less!?!? Well, OK.
To win Solar 2 simply post a comment below saying, “I wanna win Solar 2!” — then either, a) include your @Twitter name, or b) write “No Twitter” and make sure your email address is valid so that I may send you the code.
I will select two (2) winners on Tuesday, July 19th. All entries must be submitted by Tuesday at 2 PM EST, 11 AM PST. Good luck!