Introduce Your Own Chaos Theory With Solar 2 (Review)
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
This indie title from the mind of Jay Watts has received numerous accolades from DreamBuildPlay 2011 (2nd place winner) to the PAX Indie Showcase and is most certainly a creative endeavor. You begin your existence as a lonely rock in the vastness of space. As you guide your rock, you can collide with others to gain mass until you become a small moon. As a moon, you can capture smaller rocks in your orbit and absorb them into your own mass, becoming an even larger Life Planet. There are a number of things that you can do at this point, such as continue capturing rocks until you get big enough to collapse into a sun, allow civilization to thrive on your planet, and even go to war with other planets.
Missions can be acquired as well, such as stealing codes from certain worlds or performing other tasks for the god-like being that sends you instructions. As you continue to grow as a sun, you can create your own life-born solar system of worlds with enormous armadas that will go to war against neighboring systems. You can even hurl your planets like stellar wrecking balls into opposing systems’ suns and then capture their planets to make your own. Of course, if you so desire, you can continue absorbing planets and asteroids to build yourself up into a supermassive Neutron Star before finally collapsing into a black hole. As a black hole you become the galactic vacuum cleaner, able to absorb everything in its path including other black holes (of course if you come across one larger than you, you’ll find yourself being the one eaten).
The real challenge in the game is with the capturing of rocks, moons, and planets to cultivate your system while keeping them from harm. Collisions can cause you or your orbiting bodies to lose mass which potentially take a lot of time to build up. As such, a balance risk vs. reward has to be considered when you’re attacking other solar systems to take their planets or keep your disembodied deity happy with their missions to destroy a system that they don’t like. The gameplay is purely addicting and you’ll find yourself spending hours nurturing your planets to build a strong system.
The game’s physics model adds a lot to the gameplay, and the gravitational pull of your star can affect celestial bodies from quite a distance away. I tested this feature by building my system at a relatively large distance from any other clump of asteroids, moons or planets, only to watch as they began to drift in my direction over time due to the magnetic pull of my own star’s mass.
Graphically, the game is fairly simple, but something really superb to look at. Suns turn from a cool blue, to yellow, and red as they grow, glowing softly in the cold dark void. Collisions spew material at high speeds across the screen, and watching a sun collapse into a black hole as you devour it is quite a sight.
The music of Solar 2 is also quite spectacular and brings with it an ethereal feel to the game. The music is dynamically in the game so as to not become repetitive, which is essential when you could be spending a significant amount of time on a single round.
Overall, Solar 2 is quite a surprising little gem for being an Xbox Live Indie Game. It’s simple yet challenging gameplay mechanics and high replay value make this one of the best indie titles I’ve seen so far on XBLIG, and for 400 points, should be one to consider if you’re looking for something unique and entertaining.
Solar 2 receives a 5.0/5.0.
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