Swords & Soldiers 2
Swords & Soldiers 2 is to Starcraft 2 as Awesomenauts is to League of Legends: A scrolling 2D take on the genre that is surprisingly just as good! I really liked how engaging the mechanics were as I darted about the 2D map, tracking my units, resources, and enemies while ensuring I was researching and building enough to keep me in the game. As someone who quite literally lost a job over Starcraft 2, I genuinely think this game will be just as deep and exciting.
There was also a Hero unit in the game who would rush forward on the map at intervals, delivering uppercuts to a larger enemy and juggling them backwards; that was some really goofy fun. This is all supplemented by some fantastic colourful artwork and genuinely funny jokes, too. The fact that I re-installed the original as soon as I got home is the highest praise I can give, really.
The original game has sat in my Steam Library on a ready-to-play-eventually list for far more than a few years. Having played the sequel now, I proceeded to rebuy the game, this time on the Wii U eshop. As with Siesta Fiesta, it is one of the games that I will immediately buy on release. The game arguably fits the Wii U better than the PC because you can hold the game in your hands should you wish to, and play it on the Wii U’s lovely (but not as lovely as the PS Vita’s) screen.
Heroes seem to be a fun addition to the game and the new army that they showed off was nice for a little extra variation on what you fight. But I personally think the best feature is the art style. Swords & Soldiers HD was a vast improvement visually over the original release, and this again iterates on the style even further and it looks gorgeous.
Affordable Space Battles
I played as a ship on the TV screen, while on the gamepad I was able to choose between fuel and electric energy to power said ship. I could also hold the ZL button to scout out enemies and determine what kind of energy and noise levels would cause them to detect me, so it was up to me to manage this to get past them.
I like the concept of stealthily manoeuvering a spacecraft through a danger-filled planet and managing the resources you use for traversal, but the demo popped me halfway through a level with no idea what to do, which really limited me to basically moving about a tight, circular area. I was impressed enough by the idea to keep an eye on it, though.
Cerebral is the best way to describe this game. Your ship being controlled with differing engines and power levels, is both complex and rewarding when you can figure out the correct solution/balance. It is very difficult to get your head around though, as certain obstacles can only be passed by safely if you have the right mix of heat, power and noise levels.
I’m a sucker for well implemented motion controls and the fact that you can rotate the ship with the gamepad is far more fun than it should be. It lets you squeeze through narrow tunnels you wouldn’t normally be able to, as well as assisting slightly with aiming weapons and light sources. It’s a minor touch but it adds so much to the game for me.
It did get incredibly hard very fast but I was thrown in the deep end – both figuratively and literally – as I began the game halfway through someone else’s playthrough, in the water no less. There were mines I had to pass by with very little power output otherwise they’d blast me. Strange tentacle plants that would capture and crush my ship if I didn’t stave them off with my light. You soon realise that everything in the game is there to either kill you or give your brain a workout, usually both. It’ll be really interesting to see what the final game is like and if it has an easier mode, so that I can fail less.
Stealth Inc. 2
I didn’t really enjoy this one, though I think that’s down to the demo planting me in the game’s rather lengthy and long-winded tutorial. What I saw of it gave me no reason to think this will be any different from any other 2D platformer, the stealth notwithstanding though that’s been done in both the original and Mark of the Ninja.
One thing I did enjoy about the game was how well it communicated its various elements to me: When I was in cover, my character’s goggles would glow a bright red, ensuring that I knew at all times how vulnerable I was, not that I ever saw any actual enemies. Instead I was navigating tight corridors as lasers and blocks attempted to kill me.
I didn’t touch the game in all honesty, as I mistook this for a remake of the original. Having played the original game on Vita (which I really really enjoyed), the tutorial bit I glanced at while others were playing, looked so similar to the original that I just assumed it was a remake for Wii U. I’m quite gutted that I didn’t pay enough attention to it as I probably would have enjoyed playing it quite a lot.