'Solder-X 2: Final Prototype' does very little to experiment or advance its genre, but it is a solid, fun game that is only as difficult as you want it to be. The game progressively scales the difficulty to the player, but there are other reasons you can have fun with the game, regardless of experience.
'Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype' is a classic, albeit much prettier than classic, sidescrolling shooter, and that genre of games comes included with a lot of expectations. For one, you would expect the game to be brutally difficult and unforgiving. Well, just as it is with your closest friends, forgiveness is 'Solders' most redeemable quality.
I was hesitant to take on 'Soldner-X 2' as a game to review because typically, I only find sidescrolling shooters entertaining for as long as it takes me lose my first life. They quickly become a tedious game of intricate movement and perfect timing. It's like a rhythm game without the reward of creating music. You have to hit the buttons at the correct time, and always be at the right place on the screen, but your only reward is often a larger crowd of angry spaceships. To sum it up, I'm the kind of player who gets a stress headache just from watching someone play Ikaruga.
I think it is pretty clear at this point, after my paragraph of complaining about sidescroller shooter difficulty, that I am building up to the statement that 'Soldner-X 2' does not share these same grievances and it is true for the most part. I won't write the phrase, 'Soldner-X 2' is an easy game (unless I am using it in reference to itself), but I will say that the difficulty stems from elements other that extreme accuracy and frustration. You're still dodging stray bullets and frantically shooting anything that moves, as well as things that don't move, but Soldner is more forgiving. The penalties for getting hit by a bullet, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time are not nearly as severe as they have been for this genre of game in the past. There is a life meter than can take a lot of hits and can recharge, and all of your weapons, even the starting ones, are powerful and fill a large portion of the screen.
The difficulty of 'Soldner-X 2' comes from keeping your high score and multipliers up (another music game similarity) and finding hidden items. You can take a lot of hits leading up to the end boss, which means you can concentrate on the fun part of these kinds of shooters as opposed to dodging everything like your life depends on it, which I suppose it technically does. The fun parts of these games are destroying things with huge weapons from a tiny ship, not playing a game of intergalactic dodge-ball, and 'Soldner-X 2' hits on this really well.
Basically, a Sonic rip-off
You start out with two different ships to choose from, each with differing weapons and fire spread. The alternate weapons found throughout the levels are dramatically different, but they feel weak in comparison to your ships core weapon. Even attempts at leveling up the alternate weapons through power-ups found throughout the stages still left me always returning to my first weapon. Among the power-ups to collect are speed boosts, secondary AI controlled ships, weapon leveller uppers and a few other helpful additions. You also collect, for point advancing purposes, golden rings that look suspiciously like a certain Hedgehogs favourite snack. I am of course talking about Sonic's golden rings, and yes, you read that correctly. I have always assumed that he ate the rings he collected. Getting hit by an enemy results in violent circular projectile vomiting, but that is a completely unnecessary tangent.
There are seven stages, and you can actually receive an ending of sorts with credits before completing all seven levels. It's a crappy ending, and one that encourages you to unlock the remaining levels, but it is an ending. The levels are unlocked by finding hidden keys throughout the stages. The best way to find these keys isn't to explore in the traditional sense, but rather to destroy everything. Certain enemies hold these keys, so the best way to increase your chances of finding the keys, is to decrease the enemies chances of surviving.
As beautiful as an Average looking Blond
The game plays in lovely 1080p resolution with a flawless framerate. I never encountered any kind of slowdown during my playtime. The art is of the spaceship in space variety though. 'Soldner-X 2' doesn't do anything compelling to really distinguish itself from similar games. The levels are diverse, ranging from space (obviously) to ice caves and underwater levels, but they all feel familiar. It's all very pretty, just very generic pretty.
The music and sound are of the future techno variety and it fits really well. Catchy tunes play behind your space battles and laser beams while a disembodied voice yells at you to tell you what kinds of power ups you are collecting. There is also some dialogue between the pilot and some lady who knows all the boss weaknesses, but their presence is unobtrusive. Most of her tips can be translated to, "shoot the crap out of everything!" so she never provides much useful assistance.
Playing through the game and opening new levels also unlocks a series of challenges that can be completed to offer new weapons and a new ship. They do a good job of providing new reasons to replay old levels, and extend the gameplay quite a bit.
'Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype' is arguably more fun than the average sidescrolling shooter, but this is still a niche genre. 'Soldner-X 2' isn't bringing in any new fans, but it is forgiving enough to not scare away those willing it to give it a shot. Those who are already fans of the genre may find the core game too easy, but the challenge is there if they want to find it. Keeping your score high, and the numerous challenges are more than enough to keep the hardcore happy. And that exemplifies what I like about 'Soldner X-2.' It is easy enough to be fun, but the challenge seekers can find it as long as they are looking for it.
Final:8.0 / 10