E3 2010: PixelJunk Shooter 2 Hands-On Preview

By Jordan Douglas on June 21, 2010, 6:11PM EDT

The PixelJunk series, created by Q Games, on PlayStation Network has become synonymous with creative, engaging experiences. Last year Q released PixelJunk Shooter, which received critical praise due to its realistic elemental reactions. Shooter ended on a cliffhanger that left the door wide open for a direct sequel - a first for the series. Shooter 2 looks to expand on all the foundations that made the original enjoyable. The new setting appears to have given Q substantial room to experiment with foreign substances and unknown consequences.

Before discussing PixelJunk Shooter 2's setting, I must give a spoiler warning because the original game's ending directly leads into the new environment. Although, most need not worry as Shooter's story has always merely been an excuse to explore strange places. That being said, Shooter 2 takes place inside the gigantic creature that swallowed your ship whole at the conclusion of the first game. The area I explored was appropriately entitled "The Belly of the Beast."

This new, living environment has allowed Q to experiment with much wider variety of substances then the common elements (earth, water, lava, oil, etc...) found in the original Shooter. For instance, the levels took place inside the beast's intestinal tract, which meant that acidic, digestive liquids and gases were common alongside familiar elements such as water and lava. The digestive, purple liquid caused the ship to slowly overheat, without subsiding until you washed yourself off in water. I also encountered a mysterious gas that sent my ship into an unwieldily spiral.

Shooter 2 does a good job of making the environment feel alive. Subtle touches such as the walls slightly swaying with the beast's pulse go a long way. Certain walls also react to your weapons by releasing a small amount of liquid when fired upon. It makes you more conservative with firepower as missed shots help create a treacherous pathway later on. Additionally, the beast's belly came with a few new enemies that divided when attacked.

Q have said in the past that Shooter proved the concept and now they're throwing everything they've got and the kitchen sink at Shooter 2. After playing some of the game, I'm fairly optimistic that they'll be able to deliver on these grandiose promises. The new setting compliments Shooter's core gameplay perfectly, allowing the team to create all kinds of strange substances for players to experiment with.

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