Rarely does a game come along that takes your breath away. Galaxy on Fire 2 Full HD is the sort of game that you can show to anyone, and guaranteed they will pause for a few seconds, in awe of the absolutely amazing space environment that has been created here. But what stuns me even more in Galaxy on Fire 2 is that it’s not only the visuals that impress, this is a complete package with a compelling enough storyline, fantastic arial combat and vast upgrade options for your ship. Not to mention the countless side-missions and activities that will have you hooked for hours on end with no real progress through the game’s main campaign. Galaxy on Fire 2 isn’t the sort of game that puts all of its effort into one area, the graphics, and then therefore assumes that this compensates for the shoddy gameplay or replay value. Galaxy on Fire really has all you could ever want in a space RPG and more, and sets the benchmark for gaming on the Mac App Store. It’s just a shame that the crashes prevent it from getting the brilliant score it deserves.
Following on from the first Galaxy on Fire (although no knowledge of the previous game is required), you continue to play as Keith T. Maxwell. Whilst routinely tracking some pirate ships, your own ship suffers from a hyperdrive malfunction and you are sent hurling uncontrollably through space and time. After recovering, you realise that your ship has been turned into scrap metal, and you’re left on some foreign planet 35 years in the future. From there you get swept up in some galactic mishap to do with a strange race known as the Void. With the bigger aim of finding a way home, you must meet with some odd characters, make deals and trades and fight enemies to achieve your goals… but first you need to find a flight-worthy ship.
After completing the tutorial missions, you are then given free roam of this alien galaxy. The galaxy is made up of 20 solar systems, all containing 6-1 space stations. These space stations allow you to buy items for your ship, purchase ‘useless’ commodities, check out the galaxy map, as well as acting as a venue for receiving side-missions. From there you can either decide to continue with the campaign or go off on a wonder.
Earning money away from the campaign is important if you want to upgrade your ship or even buy a new one (which is something I recommend doing as soon as possible). But there aren’t any trees here to grow money on, so you will have to earn it via other means such as completing side missions in the Space Lounge and trading. The people you meet at the Space Lounge can give you side quests like ‘protect this cargo ship’ or ‘take down this smuggler vehicle’ but can also offer their services as a wingmen to aid you in confrontations. Trading involves buying a commodity – like food or electronics that have no real use in-game – and then selling it for a higher price at another station. You can also make money by mining for valuable ores or collecting goods from the remains of Pirate ships and flogging them at your nearest Space Station. There are really a ton of things you can do completely unrelated to the actual story and you can easily find yourself lost in the whole experience and almost forget you have a campaign to follow.
What about a Space Battles?
Actual space combat consists of good old dog fighting. Warning though, if you’re prone to motion sickness then maybe executing barrel role manoeuvres and lightning fast turns isn’t going to do wonders for your stomach. Otherwise, combat is a blast. The AI are smart enough to use their boost when they take too much damage at one time meaning you can’t just tail one ship till it explodes. In fact, keeping track of enemies in the vast vacuum of space is tricky and they have a habit of sneaking behind you and beginning another assault from behind. The first few space battles with the rusted and pretty useless ship you start off with are a hard pill to swallow. Surviving them is challenging and having to restart at the last space station you visited is fair but frustrating nonetheless.
Upgrading your ship with sensors, turrets, drills, shields, boosters, cabins, primary and secondary weapons and a whole load of other bits and bobs that help you perform better on the battlefield is addicting. You really feel like you’re crafting something of your own and seeing your hard work pay off is brilliant.
Galaxy on Fire 2 Compatibility
Galaxy on Fire 2 originated from the iPhone and iPad screens… and really, you can’t tell. It would have been easy for FISHLABS to do a quick port of Galaxy on Fire 2 from the iPad and call it a day. But I assure you it wouldn’t have been half the game it is now. Spending 5 extra man-years redoing all of the graphics was worth it because Galaxy on Fire 2 Full HD looks unbelievable. A lot of the game has you just flying through empty space waiting to enter or leave a Space Station’s orbit, yet impatience never even pops his angry face out of the soil far below. And this is purely because you can look at the Galaxy on Fire 2 for hours and still be content. Seeing some absolutely huge battleship hum by you, minding its own business triggers a remarkable emotion. That feeling that makes you bristle with excitement, contentment and awe of what you’re seeing. The idea that you’re part of this living, breathing and totally awe-inspiring universe is just incredible.
Bam! The magical world in front of you disappears instantly and you’re brought back to the computer’s desktop. That’s when you realise, the game’s crashed… again. Being violently brought back to reality in the form of a fatal crash is disheartening and for some reason, Galaxy of Fire 2 Full HD experiences quite a few of them. When I say quite a few, I’d say once every 20 loading screens which comes around annoyingly quickly. And it’s SUCH a shame. Yeah, sure, you can just load the game back up and resume basically where you left off, but the spell has been broken and you can’t help thinking at every load screen: ‘Will it crash? Please no!’.
Galaxy on Fire 2 is a ridiculously excellent game. It never, ever gets old and this is because of a combination of the freedom to do what you want, the amount of things you can do as well as the console-quality visuals. Being native to the Mac App Store, it really is the future of Mac App Store gaming; relatively new developers being creative, taking a risk and developing something amazing. Despite all this, everything comes tumbling down purely because of the too frequent crashes. The game is playable and enjoyable, but I still can’t fully recommend a ‘broken’ game with a 4/5. Hopefully an update will help solve these problems soon.
Publisher: FISHLABS. Price: $9.99
[UPDATE] FISHLABS have released an update to Galaxy on Fire Full HD to sort out some Lion memory management issues. This has since fixed the constant crashes we previously toke note of as being the one and only flaw with Galaxy on Fire 2. As a result, we have boosted its score from 4/5 to 5/5.