Monday 7 June 2021

Interstellar Flames 2 (Gizmondo review)

Developer: Xen Games
Publisher: Gizmondo Studios
Released: 2005

Interstellar Flames 2 is a 3rd-person shooter and the sequel to the 2002 title (Palm OS, Sharp Zaurus, Symbian, Windows Mobile, Zodiac).

There's eight missions (that can be replayed at any time once you've beaten them individually) and your objective is to rid the alien fleet by destroying their orbiting mothership and home planet. The Play button shoots lasers, Rewind fires Homing Missiles, while Fast Forward launches a Smart Bomb. What's pleasing is how the missions have a somewhat SpyHunter (2002, Nintendo GameCube) quality to them, in so much as they have sub-objectives that include blowing up a particular set of objects; a handy indicator alerts you to these, as well as a voice-over to ease frustration. There's also some good scenic variety such as air combat with gigantic enemy ships, as well as sections above water where falling trees and buildings make for some narrow passageways. The draw distance is perhaps the game's Achilles heel though, as you'll usually find yourself blindsided by incoming fire prior to enemies arriving on screen; the fact that you can't see rogue ships easily becomes a huge problem in later missions, as cheap hits tend to sit in place of any strategy / quick manoeuvring you might attempt to employ. Compounding things further are the inconsistent hit detection and your jumpy cursor which makes it impossible to make precise movements when lining up a shot. Also, it's not uncommon for your ship to become stuck on part of the scenery, leaving you to watch as it repeatedly bashes itself into oblivion. The lack of continues really hurt the game's replayability, as instead you'll have to slog through the same monotonous missions (that are also far too long and overstay their welcome) in the hope of seeing what lies ahead.

Interstellar Flames 2 certainly shows some promise (mainly in its locales), but it's severely hamstrung by copious amounts of technical deficiencies that have a detrimental effect on its gameplay. Add in the prolonged, repetitive missions and scarce continues and you're left with a game that quickly grows tiresome.

Random trivia: Xen Games only released three titles, the other being Strategic Assault (1998, Pocket PC and Symbian UIQ).

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