Review: Solar 2 – want to become outer space?

Review: Solar 2 – want to become outer space?
4.5
Game Name: Solar 2
Platforms: Windows PC, Steam, XBOX Live
Publisher(s): Murudai
Developer(s): Murudai
Genre(s): Casual, sandbox
Release Date: Jun 17th, 2011

Developer Summary:

In most games you see stars in the background, you shoot asteroids or you live on planets. But in Solar 2 you ARE these objects! Enter a universe where you must prove yourself to the resident god-like figure by doing its many bizarre and varied tasks. Or just ignore it and see how big you can grow!

What We Think:

“Space, it seems go on forever but then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you.”Futurama

Well in Solar 2, space does go on and on forever. In this “open universe” sandbox game, you play one of a variety of celestial objects. The game strives to be relaxing by setting up a mellow ambiance but with time can become very dramatic.

This Game is Bi-Polar

This game really has two polarities: floating aimlessly in space while making up your own rules and goals like getting from asteroid to black hole in under 20 minutes. Then there is the mission side where an unknown ethereal being tells you what to do, where to go and how to get there. Depending on the mission types, you may be ramming into things or simply flying from point A to point B without getting hit by other celestial objects.

Floating around in space is a great part of this game – trying to gain as many stars as possible, fighting against what ever floats your way or striving for Steam achievements, really give you direction without limitations that you wouldn’t be interested in anyway.

In My Early Days As An Asteroid…

Of start out as a lowly Lilliputian asteroid, endeavoring to absorb other asteroids by smashing into them so as to gain more mass. Around 30
“mass” you become a small planet. In this state, instead of smashing into other asteroids, you try to get them to orbit around you.

Solar 2 game screenshot 1

Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion

Gravity and momentum play a major role in this game; orbiting objects will be affected by momentum and gravitational pull from you and other celestial objects. At around 90 mass you become a life-sustaining planet, which means life will start to evolve on your surface. This life will provide your planet with shields and turrets.

They will also launch spaceships from you to attack other celestial objects like hostile planets, spaceships and asteroids which, when trying to absorb asteroids can be annoying but of course part of what constitutes the game play. Overall your trigger-happy surface dwellers are there to protect you though, and they grow stronger with each kill, gaining experience and providing you with better turrets.

At 180 mass you become a small star, which will allow you to have planets, instead of asteroids orbit you. These planets can have life on them which means you can really build up an army.

Masses of Gases

After a small star you become a medium star and then a large star, with each level allowing you to have more planets orbit you which, in turn allows you to grow into a huge star system with up to 10 planets, which you must manage to get asteroids to orbit around these planets and have the planets absorb the asteroids to have them grow into planets with more mass. And thus the cosmic expansion unfolds.

When you have a planet with a large mass but that is not yet a small star, you can absorb it into your own star (which may be a reason why the first version of Solar was often compared with similar indie favorite Osmos). You may also allow that planet to become another star that orbits your current star, but you can also create a black hole (in which case you must grow both of your stars to the black hole size = 3,000 mass.)

Solar 2 game screenshot 3

Once you are a black hole the game gets pretty easy as you fly around sucking in everything you see including other black holes that are smaller than you. Larger black holes will suck you in though, so you have to stay a safe distance from them. Thankfully, (and thoughtfully on the part of the dev) there is a nifty indicator that allows you to see when you get close to another black hole that is bigger than you. This can be turned off to increase difficulty, should you consider this to be too revealing. Once you reach 1,000,000 mass you create a big bang and start over as an asteroid. Pretty simple. And awesome.

On your way from asteroid to black hole there will be missions you can take which are separated by what you are – asteroids, planets and stars all have different mission types. As an asteroid, for example, you may have to hurl yourself into a planet or ship or dodge missiles from other ships. As a planet missions range from defending yourself from a horde of nomadic space raiders to saving space’s finest art from those pesky life forms which are like parasites and must be removed. As a star your missions will be more large scale, fighting off whole systems, or stealing planets and delivering them to certain points. When all missions are complete there is a final boss which we shall leave as a surprise.

Solar 2 game screenshot 2

With the relaxing overtone and at times exciting missions the game really provides the best of both worlds. The sounds are great and the music never dulls the action, but instead complements it. If you have ever been a big science-fiction fan, your journey through Solar 2 may feel like just the experience you have been waiting for.

I know when I saw all the planets getting sucked into the loathsome and mighty black hole I had become, watching their ships try to escape my dark grasp as their planet got swallowed, all I could think was how many sci-fi stories shared that exact scenario. Then moments later I swallow that very ship within which those action heroes may have trembled and the story ends with a big bang.

Solar 2 is great and renews my faith in open-world gaming. I feel that this inspiring sequel gives the genre a strong future and standard to which to aspire.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

4 Comments

  1. Have it on my Steam wishlist, hoping it’s featured in a daily sale during the Summer Sale though it’s already at 50% off so I’ll be buying it on the last day of the sale regardless!

  2. bigbangtheory says:

    Downloaded this gem last night. It’s far more fun than I anticipated. The review sums it up perfectly. Like Flow on a cosmic scale.

  3. Indie-Game-Freak says:

    Thanks for taking the time to write about our review of Solar 2. We reviewed the original title Solar at our sister site XBLIGR.com when it first launched on the XBOX Indie Marketplace, and are both happy and pleasantly surprised to see that this one-man development team has now managed to port the franchise to Steam and get into the 2011 PAX 10!

    This should be taken as an example of encouragement by the many indie devs out there who may often feel as though their hard work and attention to detail in getting lost in an ocean of mediocrity and clutter.

    Kudos to Muradai for forging ahead and congrats to him for his “stellar” work.

  4. I bought the game this morning, with much trepidation as I still wasn’t sure of it but I spent a happy hour wandering around the universe. Good game! :)

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