Review: Soldner-X: Himmelssturmer (Sony PS3)


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Soldner-X: Himmelssturmer
Genre: Space Shooter
Developer: EastAsiaSoft / Sidequest Studios
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Release Date: 12/03/2008

I threw down for this game strictly because it was a HD space shooter and I liked the fancy lightning guns in the trailers. I’ve been wanting to play a good shooter in HD for long enough that you could say I was starved into this decision.


Story / Modes

soldner-x_01This shooter actually attempts a story. A strange and weak story, but it does try and I appreciate the effort. Feel free to sing along with this one if you’ve heard it before.

You are a space bounty hunter. Civilization has been destroyed by a lame plot device. Oh no! It is now your job to defeat some Terminator-Skynet-virus-whatever that takes over everything on every planet and wants to blow you up very badly! If you save the galaxy some vague reward will be yours!

Hooray. Yay. I guess.

There are little slide show cut scenes that make no sense which set up the premise for a random collection of levels. I’m left to conclude that the developers have never played one a game in this genre and just made one all by themselves without learning about the previous failures.

Story Rating: Bad


Graphics

soldner-x_06Like I said, I was sold on this game because it was a HD space shooter, and I’ve been wanting to play a good shooter for long enough that you could say that I was starved into grabbing this game. It has a lightning gun. How bad can it be?

As it happens, the answer is pretty bad.

Some of the bosses are kind of interesting in appearance, but the background and baddies that are tossed at you had very little appeal for me. It reminded me more of an imitation Metal Slug title than a dynamic shooter. Bombs are a huge blob of color instead of a vibrant explosion. The only interesting thing that happens is when you destroy a chunk of a boss and are rewarded with a somewhat satisfying explosive result.

Graphics Rating: Mediocre


Sound

The name is extra German. There is plenty of gaming auf Deutch to be found here in Soldner-X: Himmelssturmer.

I am the first to admit that whatever German language skill I had thought that I had acquired through classes and summer immersion retreats is long gone. I discovered this when I had the wrong ticket on a train in Bavaria and had a bunch of people yelling at me and couldn’t understand a word of it. Oops.

I had something akin to that experience happen while playing this game as well. You hear things happening, they seem to be important, but you don’t know what they’re talking about.

Apart from some German jabbering, I didn’t really notice the theme or the “pew pew” of the non-exciting weapons. Nothing jumps out. There are no surprises.

Sound Rating: Mediocre


Control and Gameplay

soldner-x_10Did the creators of Soldner-X: Himmelssturmer ever play Gradius or R-Type? These guys do like Shoot ‘Em Ups, right? This is just not a fun game. I’ve played flash games that are a lot more exciting and fun than this.

If you persist in playing this game, it will give you more continues based on your Pilot Level. It’s pretty much pointless because if you ever lose your power-ups at any point other than the first stage, you can barely kill anything.

The chaining method of developing extra power-ups is pretty pointless. It might be more interesting if it gave you anything fun or worthwhile besides a little healing now and then. Swapping around weapons to reset your chain gauge isn’t an interesting development – it’s just a distraction.

Something gets unlocked when you get four of the five secret key tokens on all four of the levels. I was still missing a couple when I decided that I didn’t want to play this game anymore, so I guess it will have to remain a mystery as to what secret level is unlocked.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Poor


Replayability

I got tired of this game almost immediately. It is slow where it should be fast. Poorly timed platforms do a lot of damage to you in cheap and non-fun ways. Going through the levels in other ways to try to find the secret keys isn’t very challenging or fun either. This game took a type of game I really enjoy and somehow made it boring with HD graphics. I’m not quite sure how they managed it.

The only real incentive to play more is for the possibility of unlocking achievements or continues. If this was a fun game, this might be something you would do anyway. As it stands, it is just more punishment.

Replayability Rating: Dreadful


Balance

soldner-x_16The game is either too easy, too hard, or generally unsatisfying throughout. This is mostly because the weapons are not balanced at all. Even less forgivable is that this imbalance makes Soldner-X not fun. The weapons consist of a blaster, a cool area electro-beam weapon which they show in all the trailers but ends up doing only very slight damage, a really annoying auto-homing weapon that aims poorly, a completely worthless flame thrower, a missile that can only be used in some boss battles, and a collection of unappealing power-ups that you may find once in the game or not at all.

This game either needs more enemies, better weapons, or a lot of something else. It is like something large is missing from the game and you’re trying to figure out what it is while you play.

Balance Rating: Awful


Originality

Since Defender, there have been plenty of 2-D side scrolling games featuring space ships blowing things up. Soldner-X doesn’t bring any effective additions to this old formula. Then it somehow manages to make it suck, which doesn’t lend to receiving a good score.

Originality Rating: Bad


Addictiveness

This game does offers incentives to play it more. Extra continues are given based on player level. Trophies are awarded for scoring cumulative point totals and levels of pilot experience. The only problem is how little fun the game is to play. If this was a game that was enjoyable to play through more than a couple times, these would be welcome additions. As it stands, it is a tribulation and marathon run to accomplish… for people who hate running marathons, naturally.

Addictiveness Rating: Worthless


soldner-x_19Appeal Factor

The appeal of an HD space shooter should be great. In Soldner-X: Himmelssturmer, it is all surface but, after about ten minutes, the appeal is gone. There are no cool weapons in the entire game. None of the enemies, or yourself, are interesting. It is a weak game after a strong initial impression, and then you’ll want to play something else.

Appeal Factor: Poor


Miscellaneous

The online rankings for various things are somewhat interesting. The ability to play with a friend in co-op is a nice addition. Having to authenticate to a game server before being able to play the game at all is a bit strange. That’s about it.

Miscellaneous Rating: Poor


The Scores
Story: Bad
Graphics:
Mediocre
Sound: Mediocre
Control and Gameplay:
Poor
Replayability:
Dreadful
Balance:
Awful
Originality: Bad
Addictiveness:
Worthless
Appeal Factor:
Poor
Miscellaneous:
Poor
FINAL SCORE: Bad Game

Short Attention Span Summary
This is a very bad space shooter that breaks out all the stops to avoid being very fun. Bad weapons, bad balance, bad story, bad unlockables, uncompelling graphics and game mechanics. Even the tutorial is annoying.

If you only had a maximum of ten minutes to play this game collaboratively with a friend, as it does support two players, it should be amusing. Anything more than that is a quick slide to boredom.

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