Sometimes sequels come along too soon. They reek of capitalism, and often kill the original game within its own lifetime. Others, like Galaxy of Fire 2, wait a respectful length of time so we’re primed and gasping for the next instalment.
Right from the outset Galaxy on Fire 2 has set itself up to bring in the legions of fans who’ve spent the last three years flying around the fantastic asteroid field of the original, fending off the mighty invaders of Terran space.
You’re straight back into the cockpit of heroic fighter pilot and mercenary Keith Maxwell, and the action is instantaneous enough to ensure the game immediately lives up to its name.
You're introduced to the gameworld during the culminating phases of a civil war. Shortly afterwards, you're thrown across space and time during a hyperdrive malfunction.
The game picks up - and essentially begins - when an asteroid miner salvages your ship and finds you alive and confused inside.
It’s all very Buck Rogers, but it’s also a great way to expand the scope of the Galaxy on Fire concept to new and epic proportions. Not that the original was in anyway small, but this sequel provides a great set up for a galaxy full of adventure.
After you help out your rather mercenary saviour, he gives you a rust bucket of a mining ship to help you on your long and perilous journey back to Terran space. But this isn’t the kind of boat you’d want to journey the whole way in, even if it could survive the trip.
So you’ve naturally got to work your way home, taking jobs from all manner of aliens to earn the credits to kit out your ship with weaponry, armour, upgrades and eventually start picking up whole new vessels.
The jobs also vary, from aggressive mercenary tasks, like protecting remote locations or convoys, to clearing space junk from the landing dock of a space station or smuggling neural contraband for tentacled drug runners.
Touting for jobs becomes immensely addictive, as every trip to the space lounge offers up a host of new and exciting opportunities. So it’s up to you to decide what kind of career you want - mercenary, hero, freedom fighter, or do you work to fight your way home through the swarms of pirates, hostiles and aliens?
The actual mechanics of space flight, therefore, are essential to making this epic adventure work. Fans of the original will know that Fishlabs had the mechanics of space flight down pat at the end of 2006, so a few extra years of development have really refined that excellent gameplay style.
This being a mobile game, the ship is naturally controlled using the keypad, and those distinctly digital controls can make accurate dog fighting quite irksome. But Galaxy on Fire 2 allows for just the right amount of leeway, neither demanding pinpoint accuracy nor allowing spongy vagueness.
This careful refinement of the controls makes even the smallest and cheapest ships a pleasure to fly, and your targets are never entirely safe once they show up on the radar.
This also means that your enemies don’t need to be witless morons to level out the playing field, either. Indeed, there’s a tangible sense of intelligence emanating from both enemy and friendly vessels (which will often accompany you on missions).
Jumping between systems is equally simple, and you don’t need to constantly consult maps or dock in space stations to move to another region of space. The sky is filled with a realistic interpretation of the galaxy, and aiming at a visible star way off in the distance allows you to jump to hyperspace directly from the flight screen.
Couple all this with the massive number of star systems and opportunities for the eager space marauder and you’ve got the grandest scope we’ve ever seen in a mobile game. The sheer scale of Galaxy on Fire 2 is awe inspiring, but the structure of the plot and its events ensures you never feel out of your depth or alone in deep space.
If you’re looking for a game of immense scale that offers the kind of gaming career normally reserved for huge PC MMOs or console based RPGs, then Galaxy of Fire 2 is for you.
If you’ve never indulged this kind of mammoth questing before, don’t be put off by the scale, however. Fishlabs eases you into play like the seasoned expert it is, and before long you’ll boast a place in future history as a grand warrior or lead a notorious life as a dread pirate.Galaxy on Fire 2 is the most stunning and gloriously involved blank slate we’ve seen on mobile, and it’s up to you to fill it with whatever sci-fi adventure you ever wanted to live out.