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PixelJunk Shooter PSN Review

Q-Games are proving themselves to be a very capable developer on PSN. The three previous PixelJunk games have provided a diverse offering; spanning racing (Racers), tower defence (Monsters), and propelling yourself from plant to plant collecting pollen (Eden). Like the latter, the series’ fourth release – PixelJunk Shooter – defies typical genre constraints, although it’s best described as a slow-paced twin-stick shooter with a blend of physics-based puzzles.

The ship flies into the planet below to mount a rescue after a mining operation goes wrong. From the outset we’re greeted with the series’ effective 1080p 2D visuals that make me wish more games didn’t pursue 3D by default. In contrast to Eden‘s vivid colours, Shooter‘s palette is surprisingly desaturated, resulting in a distinctive – if a little overly brown – appearance. Nevertheless, the overall presentation is stylish and clear, and I found the music by High Frequency Bandwidth to be tremendous.

The game is split into short stages that sees you travel deeper into the planet as you progress. The environments are reminiscent of levels from Worms, and each is scattered with a few stranded miners whom you must winch to safety. A few bad guys lurk in the caverns and you can’t be too trigger-happy with the miners nearby.

Fortunately, the winching is not the primary focus of the game. In the caverns you will discover pockets of water, lava and ice; this is where Shooter‘s puzzle elements come into play. There are some great physics on show; the substances reacting together, and gravity will make a liquid flow down the level. The game doesn’t linger long with the same mechanics and later levels introduce a rising flammable gas and a lethal magnetic oil.

Additional variety is provided by level-specific ship upgrades. For example, some ice levels feature the Magma Suit, this enables you to fire molten lava instead of your standard rocket-based weapons. The result is often fun and dangerous.

Along the way you will find buried gems, some of which are in off-screen hidden areas. Locating these adds to the replayability, as does the ability to improve your scores and times that get added to online leaderboards. The game design indicates this was intended as a game to play solo, but there’s the welcome choice of same-screen co-op, which holds up well and is a good excuse to replay from the start.

The main criticism is the short length, and while this is reflected in the price, it’s over all too quickly and you’ll be left wanting a lot more. If Monsters and Eden are anything to go by, it’s quite likely we’ll see a well-deserved Encore pack bring extra content to the game.

PixelJunk Shooter is simple, fun, addictive, and recommended to anyone with a PS3.

9 out of 10