Hands-on: PixelJunk Shooter 2 for PS3

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Q-Games and Dylan Cuthbert are cooking up plenty of new tricks for PixelJunk Shooter 2, the follow-up to the 2009 PSN title that mixed retro-styled audio-visuals with progressive gameplay mechanics. But once I picked up the controller at last week’s NYC PlayStation media day, I discovered that PixelJunk Shooter 2 expands upon this formula in several key ways.

Light and dark. I quickly learned that darkness is not your friend in PixelJunk Shooter 2. Traveling though a dark area for more than a few seconds will attract invulnerable apparitions – the spectral remnants of a “lost civilization” — and almost instant death. Faced with a long, shadowy tunnel, I turned my cannons on a nearby phosphorescent mushroom. While it bobbed like a metronome, I was able to stay within its small orb of light to pass through the tunnel unscathed.

That’s when I discovered another threat lurking in the darkness: worm-like parasites that latched onto my ship’s hull and slowed my movement to a crawl. Once exposed to light, the worms quickly wither and die — but their slowing effect can spell doom when you’re desperately trying to escape the ghosts.

PixelJunk Shooter 2 for PS3

New elements. By and large, the original game tasked players with manipulating magma and water (plus that magnetic black fluid found near the end of the game) to advantageous effect in order to rescue stranded explorers. But being set inside the “Belly of the Beast,” PixelJunk Shooter 2’s various substances have a more organic theme: I saw a caustic bile-like fluid as well as a mysterious purple ooze.

PixelJunk Shooter 2 for PS3

Eden…found? In another sequence, I encountered vast clouds of a smoke-like substance that caused my ship to spin like a top and careen helplessly out of control. Trouble was, I had to traverse the cloud in order to reach the end of the level. What to do?

While spinning, I used my grappling hook on an oddly shaped object placed nearby, which caused me to swing around and around like a kid on a merry-go-round. By releasing the grappling hook at the right time, I was able to propel myself out of the cloud and safely into the level’s exit. PixelJunk Eden fans will feel right at home!

My first hands-on experience with PixelJunk Shooter 2 didn’t last long, but it also gave me a chance to track down answers to a couple of PlayStation.Blog reader-submitted questions, which I’ve posted below.

plaztiksyke asks: Will PixelJunk Shooter 2 have a longer campaign than the original?

Q-Games is still hard at work on PixelJunk Shooter 2’s development process. From what I’ve been told, they haven’t yet nailed down the set number of levels and environments for the final game, though the game’s overall length is expected to be roughly comparable to the original game.

I was also reminded that PixelJunk Shooter 2 will also include a new competitive arena, as well as a “ghost attack” mode, both of which will add further gameplay options.

plaztiksyke asks: Who’s doing the music for PixelJunk Shooter 2?

High Frequency Bandwidth will be returning to create new music tracks for PixelJunk Shooter 2.

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