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Platform: PlayStation 3

PixelJunk Shooter Review

An interesting physics puzzle game wrapped in a classic and welcoming 2D shooter shell

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PixelJunk Shooter is the fourth title in the PixelJunk series from Q-Games. Shooter is an interesting and well executed physics puzzle game hidden beneath a layer of traditional spaceship shooter. With the previous titles in the PixelJunk series being a bit hit or miss amongst gamers, does Shooter up the ante or simply follow the status quo?

PixelJunk Shooter carries a unique visual style that sets it apart from both the standard PSN faire as well as the former PixelJunk titles. The game looks great from the get go with each level being populated with lakes, waterfalls, lava flows, boulders, and cavernous backgrounds. Despite this strong first impression, the game seems to lose track of most of its aesthetic beauty as the player progresses through the campaign. The game’s 2nd episode is bathed almost entirely in blue and white while the 3rd episode brings little more than a bland and geometric industrial environment. Although the stages may be varied, it’s a shame that Shooter couldn’t have kept the colorful and interesting environments of the early levels as the complexity of the gameplay increased.

Mirror's Edge game
Water and lava are the main puzzle components in the early portions of the game

It's in the gameplay that Shooter really shines. Despite the title, Shooter is as much (perhaps even more so) about puzzle solving as it is about shooting. Players will be navigating lava flows, cooling off in underground ponds, digging through rock, and melting their way through ice in order to collect as much treasure and save as many scientists as possible. You’ll blow up caverns to allow water to cool lava into rock, put on a magma suit to spew lava over a troublesome block of ice, and put on your anti-magnet suit to keep a roomful of oil at bay. The game controls well and keeps things simple with a rock-paper-scissors formula for many of the game’s puzzles. The puzzles are intriguing and the fluid physics are some of the most impressive I’ve ever encountered. The game is brimming with collectibles and invites exploration with an array of hidden areas in each episode. With full leaderboard support and time tracking on every level, it’ll feed the competitive desires of many perfectionist gamers out there.

Don’t be mistaken though. There’s still plenty of shooting to be had here and each episode ends with a traditional boss fight that will scratch that old-school arcade itch. Unfortunately though, the shooter side of the game sees little in the way of upgrades and new weaponry aside from the ability to spray water and lava which will be a bit of a letdown for the more action-oriented players.

The downside to this simplicity and ease of play is that as the game adds new mechanics and the player delves deeper into the campaign, the game doesn’t really ever get more difficult. Peaking sometime during the game’s 2nd episode, you’ll find yourself looking for more of a challenge in the game’s later level. This is especially evident during the final boss fight. You may die a lot (I certainly did) and it may take you a few minutes to finish him off but after a minute or two, you’ll have the pattern and the puzzle figured out which is unfortunate given the game’s interesting mechanics and what they could have done with all of the different suits and fluids utilized throughout the rest of the game.

Mirror's Edge game
Those tiny scientists aren’t exactly going to save themselves

The game includes a two-player mode that simply adds a second player to the mix without really bringing anything else new to the table. This can be entertaining during your first time through the game as both players can explore the environments and work on the puzzles together, but there’s little reason to go through the same levels with two players after beating the game, which will run about 4 hours on an initial and minimal playthrough. Multiplayer is a nice addition but not something that should be too heavily considered when pondering a purchase.

In the end, PixelJunk Shooter is an entertaining and laid back game that doesn’t overstay its welcome, strays away from the monotony that 2D shooters can be prone to, and gives us an experience unlike anything else on the PS3. The striking visual seem to go to waste in the later levels,the number of gameplay mechanics grows as the game goes on but unfortunately, the difficulty does not, and the multiplayer isn’t fleshed out enough to justify a playthrough but PIxeljunk Shooter makes up for all of this in the inventiveness of its puzzles and the depth of its exploration and collectability. Aside from its flaws, PixelJunk Shooters’ low price point and downloadability give the average gamer very little reason not to pick up this game.

Our ratings for PixelJunk Shooter on PlayStation 3 out of 100 (Ratings FAQ)
Despite the game's amazing fluid dynamics and unique visual style, it can be hard not to think Shooter is a flash game running in high definition. It's graphically sound but the environments become progressively blander as the game goes on.
Shooter's array of puzzles, weapons, fluids, suits, and enemies keep things exciting for a while but can begin to lack depth once the game hits its difficulty plateau early in the 3rd episode.
Single Player
The three episode campaign keeps the gameplay and level design interesting without overstaying its welcome and bringing on monotony. Tons of collectibles and leaderboards give this game a lot of replayability for all the perfectionists out there.
The inclusion of two-player multiplayer is nice and can be fun for less-than-serious play. Due to the difficulty to play with the same level of speed and precision as is possible in singleplayer, many players won't feel the desire to delve very deep into
With only the occasional glitch in controls or the rare failure to update the leaderboards, Shooter runs and performs on the PS3 with near-perfection.
Pixeljunk Shooter is one of the most enjoyable and unique PSN titles out there. It takes the traditional 2D shooter and gives it a physics-puzzler twist that hasn't been seen before.
PixelJunk Shooter
PixelJunk Shooter box art Platform:
PlayStation 3
Our Review of PixelJunk Shooter
The Verdict:
Game Ranking
PixelJunk Shooter is ranked #739 out of 1980 total reviewed games. It is ranked #43 out of 63 games reviewed in 2009.
738. Dante's Inferno
Xbox 360
739. PixelJunk Shooter
740. Ghostbusters
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Released: September 2016
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PixelJunk Shooter
6 images added Dec 13, 2009 16:48
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