Space is the final frontier for a reason. It’s intriguing and beautiful, and to fly into it would be a dream come true for many. But it would also be completely impractical and, at times, interminably dull.
It’s this strange dichotomy that's evoked in Galaxy on Fire 2. The game can be slow, but a well-balanced economy and expansive universe make up for it. The plot suffers from a strange sense of split personality. At first it feels rather cliched, putting you in the cockpit of crack pilot and bounty-hunter Keith T. Maxwell as he engages a trio of pirates. Then his ship goes all wobbly and he finds himself coming to 35 years later. From this point the clichés come just as thick and fast as the genuine intrigue.
But the story is only half the, er, story. A sizeable chunk of the game is made up of scouring the Space Lounge near each planet, taking courier jobs between identical space stations or escort missions, mining asteroids, and doing other space-chores.
And, of course, there are scuffles with pirates. Once you have a good ship decked out with some decent weapons and equipment, firefights are actually mostly enjoyable – much more so than the more rote ‘travel from A to B’ quests.
The space flight itself is well-designed, with both the D-pad and touchpad providing solid directional controls. Holding the R bumper controls the thrust, while X and Square fire primary and secondary weapons. L bumper allows you to quickly choose a destination.
Thanks to these well-optimised controls, dog-fighting and flying from one place to another are as smooth as Han Solo’s quips – if not quite as quick.
Time traveller Progressing from one ship to another and gaining new equipment is a long haul, albeit one with beautiful graphics and a surprisingly competent in-game economy.
Once you get to a point where your ship is actually useful, things pick up. Galaxy on Fire 2 is definitely a frigate rather than a combat-focused fighter.
It’s a very slow-burning game, and one that sometimes lurches oddly between being quite absorbing to being a touch on the dull side. But there's a sense of purpose to the game's vast universe, and if you're prepared to put in the hours Galaxy on Fire 2 is more than worth the slog.
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