The Galaxy on Fire series originally debuted on the iPhone and later on the iPad with its sequel providing more content and a larger galaxy to explore. With the recent launch of the Mac App Store, Fishlabs has brought the series from portable devices to Apple computers with Galaxy on Fire 2 Full HD. The new release on computers is essentially the same content, but with added support for keyboard, mouse, and gamepad controls in addition to 1080p visuals. Fans of the title on iPhone and iPad will appreciate the added resolution for viewing a larger portion of the galaxy. However, this review is based toward gamers that have not played any of the series before and that are looking for a new game to test out their sleek Mac hardware.
Fans of Freelancer and other similar space exploration and combat games will feel at home with Galaxy on Fire 2. It may not share as much content as other full-fledged space titles, but it definitely borrows some of the roots from genre classics. Players begin the game with a novice ship and are a relatively unknown character. After a few missions, they soon discover that their character will have to battle an alien force known as the Void in hopes to save the galaxy. The story is overly simplistic and offers a lackluster experience that takes about three to four hours for completion. Outside of the story, players can visit numerous space stations to accept side quests, buy new parts or ships, trade supplies, view the star map, and review mission briefings. There are many routes to success from fighting pirates to mining asteroids for profitable ore. Players can also customize their ships to have a variety of weapons from lasers to machine guns and even parts that enable abilities to boost speed or scan targets quicker.
The game is also host to a wide selection of galaxies that can be accessed through warp gates or later with a drive that supports space travel from any location. Until players upgrade to a better ship or gain access to the warp drive, travel between systems is a slow and tedious process. There is a button for fast forwarding travel between long distance waypoints, however, it is disabled if enemies are in the current system. Expect long durations of gazing into an abyss of stars while traveling between destinations.
To make matters worse, the combat is a drab affair that involves firing at enemy ships until they explode into space debris. Beyond the normal attack is the ability to use secondary weapons such as homing missiles and EMP bombs. Controls for maneuvering ships are simple enough to learn, but the lack of complexity for steering removes much of the tension from battle. Victory in most battles is the result of the ship’s weapons, armor, and shield ratings. It does not matter if the enemy ship is alien or pirate, they all maneuver the same once in battle. There is little incentive beyond more credits in seeking out and battling enemy ships across the galaxies. Buying new weapons or a faster ship help a little in adding some much needed excitement to the extremely dull battle encounters.
The main attraction in Galaxy on Fire 2 Full HD is the upgraded visuals to 1080p. The graphics are well optimized allowing for smooth gameplay on most Mac models with either an integrated or dedicated video card. The upgraded 1080p visuals greatly improve the atmosphere of piloting a ship through the sprawling galaxy. From the glare of distant sun to the shiny exterior of a space station, the game’s space backdrops steal the show. The ship models are also beautifully rendered and truly shine when placed against an array of stars and planets. The only lacking aspects of the game’s visuals are the various particle effects, such as ships' laser beams and explosions. Compared to the other graphics employed in the game’s engine, the particle effects don’t venture beyond the space genre’s bland traditions. Along with the particle effects, the game’s music, sound effects, and voice acting are all easily forgettable throughout gameplay. The music has a bad habit of looping frequently and the voice acting suffers from humorous delivery of the various dialogues between characters.
The experience in Galaxy on Fire 2 can be conflicting at times with its lackluster story and gameplay on one hand, but on the other there are its polished graphics and large assortment of content. Space genre fans looking for an experience that delivers the same amount of content and depth as Freelancer and other similar titles will be disappointed. However, players looking for a well-polished and easy to pick up space adventure will surely find some enjoyment in the game from hunting pirates to buying the best ship in the galaxy.
Galaxy on Fire 2 Full HD is now available on the Mac App Store for $19.99. Other versions for portable devices including iPhone and iPad can be found on the Apple App Store.
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