By: Jeff Cater
From the depths, developer Double Eleven Limited has brought forth another sequel to the critically acclaimed PixelJunk Shooter, originally released on the PlayStation Network in 2009. In PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate,the setting and theme have surely changed, but the gameplay is very much the same.
As the controls are virtually identical to the game’s predecessors, it’s easy for veterans and noobs alike to pick up and have a great time. Using the left stick boosts your ship about the various caverns and organs (more on that later), while the right stick coupled with R1 will align your craft’s weaponry for combat.
A handy thing to know (but one that isn’t necessarily explained) is that if you aim in the same direction as the one you are moving you’ll move at a much faster pace, so it is good to keep that in mind if you need to really get out of some place quickly.
If you had played the previous games and loved the visuals, the sights and sounds here definitely don’t disappoint. Though there haven’t been any groundbreaking upgrades made visually, the series doesn’t really lend itself to an overhaul like that. We are instead treated to more realistically moving fluids, more plump clouds of gasses and instances of pure silky darkness. Seeing the results of various elements mixing together is always cool (or hot and dangerous, wakka wakka!), and that’s pretty much half the game.
When the first game dropped, everyone went crazy over the soundtrack. High Frequency Bandwidth matched the tone and setting of the game perfectly, and they’ve come back to PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate. While I feel that it lacked the impact of previous soundtracks, it wasn’t at all bad; it still did a great job of complementing the atmosphere, but I couldn’t get over the feeling that the pacing was just off.
In PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate, you are still in the pilot seat of a badass, scientist-saving craft with a grappling claw. You are also exploring the depths, but rather than extracting a science team from the caverns of a planet, you are inside a creature!
For some reason, inside this creature are several scientists, ice and lava. In addition to contending with those elements, you’ll encounter pitch blackness that contains creatures that will consume you if you stay in the shadows too long. To counter this, your ship can now dawn a Light-Suit.
While the theme stays from previous game that every element has a counter to it, it isn’t always as conventional as a suit. So the physics puzzles are there, and by puzzles I technically mean guiding one fluid to another in order to produce an effect such as hardening lava with water or melting ice to unearth some weary scientists.
Two players can also get in on the action simultaneously with some couch-co-op, but it falls a bit short here. While there are two players on the screen, the number of enemies doesn’t noticeably increase, and there aren’t really any situations that require two players to complete. In the end, the multiplayer feels superfluous, and the game is better viewed as a single-player experience.
Even though Double Eleven didn’t shatter dimensions with this continuation of the PixelJunk Shooter saga, it adds just enough so it doesn’t reek of rehash. PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate is a solid and enjoyable experience best played solo.