Galaxy On Fire 2
Ah, mobile gaming, how hardcore gamers look down on it. And yet there are times when a game is so well done that it completely blows everyone away. Galaxy on Fire 2 is everything that we wanted in a space themed game and more –much, much more; mostly because of the fact that it came out for mobile devices. Despite the very obvious hardware disadvantage, GoF 2 HD brings all the features of the desktop version and translates it faithfully to the mobile platform. So for all of you who have been waiting for years for a good space-sim to be launched, your wait is finally over.
The Best of Other Games
It is a misleading concept to think that a game should be something that “has never been done before” –because as much as we love innovation, there are literally hundreds of games out there that tried to be innovative and ultimately failed. There are a few exceptional games that managed to pioneer an entire gaming genre, but most of the best games on our top lists are not the ones that made a new path, it is the ones that paved a smoother road. Polish is often better than innovation. While innovativeness quickly loses its charm after it is no longer new, those that have perfected the genre are the ones that are most remembered.
Galaxy on Fire 2 takes the best elements from some of the most prominent space-sims of all time. Freelancer, Wing Commander, even bits of X-Wing VS Tie-Fighter; if you played any of these games and other entries of the genre, then chances are you will feel right at home playing GoF 2HD. The controls are simplistic and easy to use (they had to tone it down a notch for the touch screen after all), the graphics are unbelievably crisp and satisfying to view. There are a vast number of ships to fly in, fly with, and fly against. Of course, there are dozens of systems to visit, hundreds of NPCs to talk to, and an unending supply of random missions that can keep you busy for hundreds of hours without even coming close to playing the main storyline.
How You Fly, is Up to You
This game will let you decide how to do things: you can either follow the main storyline or you can look for your own things to do. You can choose a ship that specializes in cargo so that you can ferry goods or passengers from one system to another earning plenty as a trade ship. You could buy a good drill and radar that will help you focus on mining and collecting ores that you can sell for profit. Or you can opt to go with firepower and hunt down bounties or provide escort services. For those of you who have a wild side, you can go rouge, attacking anything in sight and looting all the goods you can get –of course, you will still want to stay friendly with some races so that you can get buyers for whatever goods you stole from other ships (and attacking other ships will make other races hate you).
That said, there is no right or wrong way to play the game, basically, this is a menu based open-world system. And we use the term menu-based very lightly here, mostly due to the fact that you access a menu at each jump gate. Otherwise, you will be spending plenty of time on your ship flying around and getting things done.
Space is a Very Busy Place
Skip that concept that space is a vast ocean of emptiness –the only time you will spend in empty areas is during the few seconds that the loading screen is up. Otherwise, expect to have your hands full with things to do.
The most obvious thing you have on your task list is the primary mission objectives –you know, the stuff you have to accomplish to get the storyline moving. The second set of things you do are optional side missions that you can acquire from people at space lounges. Some will be asking you to sell something to them (if you do not have it in stock, you can hunt it down or buy it then sell it to the quest giver). There are those who are selling you something (random goodies for random prizes), so be sure to study the offers carefully as some will be bad deals while others will net you plenty of profit. Then there are those who will ask you to perform a specific task (which, upon completion, yields a nice profit). And then there are those who will offer you a chance to “smooth” things out with a race that hates you (for blowing up some of their ships for example), if you pony up the credits, the race in question will stop seeing you as a hostile threat.
But that is just the mission based part of the game, you can also make a living in space by being a trader, a miner, or even a pirate. Being a pirate is not easy, unless your idea is to destroy other ships and steal the loot that comes floating out, it is a whole lot more complicated. The game allows you to make use of EMP weapons –these will render enemy ships unable to fire back or even move. Once paralyzed, you can use a tractor beam to steal goods from the other ships without having to blow them up. Complicated and challenging, but if you want to role play, then this is one combat option you should definitely try out.
Simply packing a game with plenty of content is one thing –but packing it with plenty of beautifully rendered content is another. The sheer mass of things you can do in Galaxy on Fire 2 is balanced by the fact that they are all fun to do. It does not matter if you are sorting out your cargo in the hangar, talking to NPC’s in a space lounge, or blowing up pirates in the middle of an asteroid field; because no matter where you are, it all looks good.
The particle effects are what makes the space combat so enjoyable –almost every single weapon type in the game has its unique visual signature. In fact, if you are familiar with the different weapon types, you can practically identify what ships are shooting at you just by looking at the laser beams that fly past you. The missile type ordnance is not so easy to tell apart, though they still have slight variations in the smoke trails they leave. Okay, space-purists may scoff at the idea of smoke trails in outer-space, but we all love a good show of Itano-fireworks so it is all good.
The backgrounds are more than just good, they are breathtakingly epic. Massive planets loom over the horizon as you swing past your enemies and hulking asteroids making for some very scenic dog fights. And if you are itching to get a screencap –worry not. The developers knew that they are making such excellent eye-candy that they purposely included a neat little “action freeze” option for players to enjoy. Simply pause the game at any time and press on the option –this will allow you to freely move the camera around (oriented with your ship at the center of focus), then simply pan, and zoom to your heart’s content in order to get the best screenshots. In the middle of a fierce dogfight, this is also a good way to look around for your enemies and assess the situation.
In The End
It is hard to put down a game that offers plenty of things for players to accomplish –especially when there is a great sense of satisfaction when you fulfill the objectives (regardless of whether it is in-game or self imposed). So yes, this game is definitely worth purchasing. And we also recommend that players check out the Kaamo Club and the VIP add-on –it will take away some of the grinding you will need for good items. But before you buy it, get a decent ship, some wingmen, and try to take on the pirates at the Shima system. It is a pretty good challenge for intermediate players of the game.
Overall, Galaxy on Fire 2 matches everything that the PC version is –which says a lot considering that this is an iOS game. The graphics are top notch, the gameplay is smooth, and even the controls are pretty reliable (with the exception of dodging, which is annoying but is surprisingly tolerable). We also give kudos to the second rate voice acting –it may seem odd at times, but it sure adds to the game’s overall atmosphere. The only thing that they really should improve on is the artwork. This is a shame since there are plenty of great science fiction illustrators out there. Anyway, the bottom line for GOF 2? We love it, and if you know that deep inside, you want to be in a cockpit of a spaceship exploring the vastness of outer space while shooting down bandits, then this is the game for you. We give this game a crippled Void ship’s 94/100.