Wryn is back to defend her title as The Greatest Hero of All Time. If you played Bleed last year, you'll know that it's a fast-paced, side-scrolling shooter. Bleed 2 plays exactly the same and will remind gamers of retro classics like Mega Man, Metal Slug, and Contra.
Bleed 2 looks noticeably better than its predecessor although it maintains the same retro art style. However, the story is way less prominent which has its pros and cons as it's less intrusive and doesn't get in the way of the gameplay but the original Bleed's storyline was wacky and charming and I found myself missing that as I played through this sequel.
When compared to the original game, Bleed 2's level design takes a major step back as its levels are short, uninspired, and filled with repeated enemy types and almost no platforming segments or challenge. If you've played through the original Bleed and remember levels like the Earth's core and inside a dragon's stomach, Bleed 2's levels will surely disappoint as they're completely generic and forgettable.
Bleed 2's plethora of bosses are fortunately much better than the levels and I honestly feel like Bleed 2 probably should have just been a boss rush game. The levels just feel a little pointless, mindless, and time consuming; especially so if you plan to play through story mode several times on each of the four difficulty settings and with each of the six playable characters.
As you play through the campaign's seven levels, you'll encounter two to four bosses in each stage. The 15 or so bosses have a variety of attack styles that range from fairly easy to extremely challenging, especially on the hardest difficulty setting. Each boss fight challenges you to think both defensively and offensively as you must make sure to avoid their attacks while simultaneously spraying them with a wave of bullets. The slowdown mechanic really shines in these boss fights as it helps you navigate tricky situations. Additionally, unlockable jumping abilities allow you to change up your play style and get every advantage you can against the hulking boss baddies.
Besides story mode, arcade mode challenges you to complete the campaign in one life. Even on easy, this is a monumental achievement. There's also an endless mode which allows you to play through short randomly generated levels then fight a random boss. It has its charm and the levels are actually tougher than some of the story levels but I don't think endless mode will keep players' attention for long. Finally, there's a fun challenge mode which allows you to simultaneously take on one to three bosses of your choosing.
I hate to continually fall back on comparisons but it's hard to not be disappointed with Bleed 2 after having played the original. Another area where Bleed 2 falters is the upgrade system which doesn't exist in any fashion. It's baffling why they removed it because the original Bleed had an enjoyable progression system that allowed you to upgrade your health, time-slowing ability, and other things.
I know it sounds like I'm really down on Bleed 2 but there is definitely still some fun to be had. Shoot 'em up fans especially should love replaying the boss fights and they can work on perfecting their strategy and achieving an S/SSS rank on every level. However, I have to admit that it definitely didn't live up to the expectations I had after playing the fantastic original.
- + Fun and challenging boss fights
- + Multiple difficulty levels and characters encourage replayability
- + Improved graphics from the original
- - Level segments are just plain boring
- - Where did the progression system go?
- - Toned down story doesn't add much