Format – PS4
Version – 1.01
The Pixeljunk series has made something of a name for itself over the past few years, with Q-Games delivering quality games in a number of different styles. Pixeljunk Shooter and its sequel, delivered something of a Ronseal moment in terms of names, providing plenty of shooting through enemies and rocks, all while rescuing miners.
Now, Double Eleven have released both shooters combined and put them in one story-led package on PS4 and PS Vita. For the purposes of this review, I played Pixeljunk Shooter Ultimate on PS4 (it’s also available cross buy on the PS Vita). The first thing to say perhaps about this version is that, from a graphical perspective, it’s not really pushing the PS4. Pixeljunk Shooter plays out in 2D and asks you to negotiate your way through a series of levels where you not only have to blast through enemies but manage your way through hazards that can also kill you just as quickly, such as lava, gas and a magnetic substance. While it’s not going to cause your PS4 to overheat as it battles to crunch all the numbers in the background, it does have a distinctive art style which comes across as a little on the cartoony side, but importantly with physics that make sense for battles through the various elements.
Throughout the six worlds you travel through on your way to completion, the challenge is ramped up in a steady manner with more of the various elements being introduced as you go along. To start with, you just have lava and water to contend with – lava will kill you, so combine it with water to create blastable rock – building to gas which will ignite if touched by lava, and a magnetic substance attracted to your ship. The clever touch here is that, where your ship can overheat to kill, you keep an eye on the temperature gauge and a quick dip in any pool of water will reduce your temperature immediately. This can lead to moments where you might think you’re done for and due a level restart but managing to steer your way into water will let you continue
Adding to the mix, some levels also provide your ship with different abilities, such as firing lava, or repelling the magnetic substance. This mixes things up nicely, and changes the nature of certain levels. The levels are largely very clever in their design, requiring you to often make use of the elements in that level to rescue all the scientists and reach the exit (which won’t open until all scientists are saved or dead – lose 5 and it’s game over). Some can be quite fiendish, but while the challenge certainly ramps up, it is rarely to the point of frustration, with the difficulty being pitched just right to make you keep restarting when you do fail.
The same can be said of the end level bosses. These are well designed, and each is appropriate to the level you’ve played through. The later bosses will take a bit of time to beat as you learn their move sets, but while it can be a little annoying when you get sent back to the start of the boss fight, ultimately this makes for a greater sense of satisfaction when you do win, and let’s be honest, most games do mollycoddle us just a little these days so the challenge is actually a welcome one overall.
If I have any criticism at all to make, it’s that on some levels, I found that unlocking the gate for the exit would cause a momentary pause. This seemed to be longer on some levels than others, but given that this is a re-purposed PS3/Vita game, I wouldn’t expect anything like this on the PS4. That’s a very minor gripe though in a game that otherwise plays superbly, and I certainly never encountered any other problems throughout. Adding to the single player, there is also a multiplayer component that tasks you with either rescuing miners, or preventing their rescue. The single player alone is a good enough offering but this mode is a worthwhile addition, as well as being an interesting change from the usual online fayre. It perhaps doesn’t have the longevity of some multiplayer games, though.
The Good Stuff
- Fun and interesting take on the shooter genre
- Levels are diverse and always interesting
- Challenge ramps up really well and never gets too frustrating
The Bad Stuff
- Odd pauses when the exit point is unlocked on certain levels
If you enjoy shooters but fancy trying something a little different that doesn’t just involve blasting everything that moves, Pixeljunk Shooter Ultimate is well worth your time (and money if you didn’t manage to pick it up from PS Plus). It’s great fun, offers a decent challenge, and keeps things interesting throughout. Does it push the PS4? Not really no. Does that matter when it’s such good fun? Definitely not.
Technical Competency – 8/10
Graphic Quality – 7/10
Entertainment Value – 9/10
Sound Quality – 7/10
Network Stability – 10/10
Overall – 8/10