Manticore – Galaxy on Fire – Review

Successful mobile games don’t always make great console releases but Manticore defies expectation.

What’s so great about it?

There’s satisfying space warfare oozing out of every single solar pore. Starfighters traipse the galaxy with style and finesse, lighting up the skies with photons and phasers while burning down bandits and pirates

Most importantly, Manticore captures the essence of the mobile Galaxy of Fire games, specifically Galaxy of Fire 3. Somehow, this takes the very best moments of the series and converts them into an enticing full-featured release.

Manticore definitely suits the portability of Switch with quick-fire missions that suit on the go gameplay or when you’re in-between action. And while there is an over-arching, often engaging narrative to follow, you’ll have the most fun boosting and barrel rolling as you blast anything that gets in your way.

That said, Manticore offers some surprisingly in-depth customisation which can be assigned ahead of each mission. Specifically, you can change your ships, what weapons you’d like to use and the types of special items you can carry. The game has nine different vessels in three different variations, being fighter, scout and gunship.

Weapon fire is assigned to ZR for standard blasters, though you can also get in some pot shots with missiles with ZL. With the in-game customisation and menu options, you can also disable enemies with EMPs or render yourself invisible to detection using A and B. What Manticore does well is give you a guideline of the types of enemies you’ll be facing in the objectives ahead of each mission. This provides plenty of opportunities to equip yourself appropriately before every intergalactic confrontation.

Alright, so what’s it about?

You’re put into the guise of a rookie pilot looking to make an impression on the Manticore rebel group after they rescue you from a near-death conflict with pirates. They don’t believe in your abilities at first, putting you in simple support and recovery missions, but over time you can build up your reputation to take on big contracts.

There are three acts of narrative which eventually lead you to various boss battles and exploration possibilities. Each sector has various collectibles to find and these can be revisited at any point once a mission has been completed. This includes discovering data cubes and ship parts. The data cubes really flesh out the lore and storyline of the game, while the ship parts can be used to further evolve your vessels.

The game breaks down into massive, full-blown confrontations, but you’ll also need to take care of freighter vessels in escort quests, as well as races, inspection quests and much more. The narrative is fully voice acted which is also a nice welcome surprise, and for the most part the cast do a decent job with the source material.

Sounds like a big step up from the mobile version

It really is, and the most important part is the graphics, all running at a stable 60fps. Even in handheld mode, the game looks genuinely impressive.

I was actually blown away by just how good Manticore looks and feels, whether you’re admiring the galaxy far and wide, the close up visuals of vessels, the gunfire and explosions happening all around, or emerging planets which just shine and glisten. There’s even a decent soundtrack attached to all of this, really helping to sell the overall moody, atmospheric space aesthetic.


Conclusion

Admittedly, the missions do feel a bit repetitive at times and tend to follow a similar structure once you’ve really settled in and got to grips with the game. You’ll also find that you rarely die and can actually fly through missions quite easily, even when you’ve taken a bit of a pounding from the enemy. Boss battles definitely amplify the challenge just a little bit, but even these can be coasted through once you understand the enemy patterns.

It’s also a shame there’s no multiplayer options to be found here, whether it’s co-operatively taking on some of the missions or having a bit of deathmatch, that would have definitely been a welcome addition to Manticore.

All that said, this controls wonderfully, it looks beautiful, there’s absolutely tons of content and everything just flows and pops. Manticore Galaxy on Fire is a solid third-party addition to the Switch library that will definitely leave a lasting impression.


Pros

+ Stunning graphics
+ Excellent handling
+ Quality amount of content
+ Nice customisation

Cons

– Little easy at times
– Missions can be repetitive and
– No multiplayer is a missed opportunity


Manticore – Galaxy on Fire

8 out of 10

Tested on Switch

Code provided by the publisher

About the author

Ray Willmott

Ray is the founder and editor of Expansive. He is also a former Community Manager for Steel Media, and has written for a variety of gaming websites over the years. His work can be seen on Pocket Gamer, PG.biz, Gfinity, and the Red Bull Gaming Column. He has also written for VG247, Videogamer, GamesTM, PLAY, and MyM Magazine,