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Söldner-X 2: Final Prototype Vita

Söldner-X 2: Final Prototype

In Söldner-X 2 for PS Vita, you will return to Gota IV as part of the Söldner-X defense force. Mankind once more relies on your battle against new mysterious powers. Staged across seven unique action-loaded levels accompanied with an adrenaline pumping soundtrack, Söldner-X 2: Final Prototype combines traditional 2D gameplay with detailed high definition graphics and a taste of fresh innovations.
  • US March 17, 2015
  • EU March 18, 2015
  • JP N/A
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Platform: PlayStation Vita icon
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Developer: SideQuest Studios
Publisher: EastAsiaSoft

I'm a spaceman

Do you know what's a good move? Take a genre that is basically extinct on the Vita, throw in the DLC for it at no cost, make it look snappy on an OLED and set off to space. Which is more or less what SideQuest Studios and EastAsiaSoft did with the 4 year old PC/PS3 side scrolling space shooter Söldner-X 2.

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Let's skip the part where they try to tell a story about battling for mankind. Sure, it's neatly told through zooming panes of people and space, but let's admit it, we're here to dodge bullets. And at that Söldner-X 2 succeeds. Set in the aforementioned space, the game ultimately takes you through 10 levels of enemies with a distinct wish to see you blow up and die. If the minions can't get to you there's always a boss at the end that will give it another go. Structurally there's nothing in X 2 that sets it apart from its siblings. You're always going from A to B, and you'll fight a boss at the end except for the one level which is basically just a giant boss in itself. Only a few of the levels have physical obstacles other than enemies, but this is somewhat redeemed by the heavily animated backgrounds that occasionally dip into vomit inducing-territory as they spin and twirl to create an artificial sense of being in something rather than just playing on top of it. The action in the foreground works well but it's also what you've come to expect. You start out with two ships to choose from, both with different weapons which you can level up during each chapter as you pick up power-ups. While the regular enemies don't really stand out, some of the bosses are pretty cool.

I said ultimately in the previous paragraph because you start out with 4 open chapters out of ten. The rest must be unlocked by collecting 4 keys in each chapter which are hidden either as drops from enemies or in the environment. And as with those levels most other content is also locked including the third ship, challenges and more powerful specials. I'm not completely against gated content, but having regular levels locked from the get-go seems a bit unfriendly to me. I'd rather have the keys unlock variations on those levels with perhaps a higher difficulty or completely different enemy sets. That said, they are not extremely hard to find and considering the short amount of time it takes to play a level you should have them all unlocked within reasonable time. And it is a short game indeed, so they keys, acing levels and more specifically the insane challenges are all good excuses to keep coming back for more. Have fun playing through levels without firing a bullet and only get hit 3 times. These 30 challenges are the real meat of the game and where you'll spend most of your time if you're a fan of the genre.

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The verdict

At the end of the day Söldner-X 2 is a highly competent side scrolling shooter that does not reinvent anything, but it looks sleek, plays super well and is pretty much a perfect bit-sized Vita game in a genre often forgotten but with so much untapped potential.

Easy on the eyes, hard to conquer
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