Solar 2 iPad Review
- Intuitive control system; tap to soar across the cosmos - the rest almost takes care of itself.
- Aesthetics perfectly capture the beauty of the universe; from the music to the simple, but clear visual design.
- Playful, tongue-in-cheek writing; pairs perfectly with the GTA-like mission structure and progression.
- Mission start points occasionally poorly placed amongst hostile systems; a victim of random happenstance (though clearing the area when they spawn would be nice!).
- Not enough control over 'Life Planet' units/development; forces the player to either destroy their planetoid to avoid failing certain missions, or getting 'lucky' and having units miss their targets.
Solar 2 is a wonderful adaption of the original title and is probably the first for the platform to make you feel like you're playing GTA as a planetoid; that quirky sense of fun permeates the game, making it a solid choice for those after something out of the ordinary.
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Situations like this aren't as common as you'd think on the App Store. While there is a somewhat sinister undercurrent of releases that step over the line of 'inspired by' and in to 'theft', being able to play the 'real thing' doesn't always happen; at least not as quickly as this. Solar 2 by Jay Watts (also known as Murudai) is everything I had hoped to see from the recently released 'Tiny Solar'. No prizes for guessing that Solar 2 was the title having its content stolen.
Ultimately the game styles itself as a blending of the evolution / 'Flow' style gameplay with GTA-like mission based objectives. You're thrown out in to the wilds with nothing but an asteroid that must slam (at considerable speed) in to other asteroids to 'merge' and gain mass. Gain enough and you'll turn in to a planetoid; more will make you a 'living planet' that will evolve lifeforms that protect your planetoid. Further still and you'll become a star that will increase as you swallow up planets... Oh and go far enough and you'll become an all-consuming Black Hole.
These stages of development are key to surviving and succeeding at the missions you're tasked with - be it simply avoiding a hail of missiles (or in the case of one amusing mission, avoiding 'fans' as your entire planet is turned in to a celestial light show for a party); or attempting to right history by killing time traveling dinosaurs and art destroying planet squatters. It's all a bit tongue-in-cheek, but that's what makes it so much fun.
For those concerned the game will wear out its welcome, there's plenty to do beyond the basic missions too. Aside from being able to mess around with the physics of the universe you're in - such as flipping gravity to 'repel' instead of attract - there are challenges that will truly test your skill and as such do not affect your progression in your main game. Those worried about losing progress or feeling like they're trapped in to grinding their way through various stages of evolution need not worry - the game provides a handy 'basic respawn' system that spits you out at the mass you require, and if you've achieved a system you're proud of you can save and 'respawn' as that too.
What makes Solar 2 so masterful is that nothing about the game feels like a waste of time or effort. Gravity pulls you in subtle, but predictable ways; evolving happens almost as a result of having fun playing around in the universe; and when you indulge yourself in the missions, completing them gives a strong sense of satisfaction.
Tie everything together with a soundtrack that swings from universal grandeur to sci-fi techno and you've got a smoothly executed, and cleverly designed gaming experience to expect when picking up Solar 2 for your iPad.