It's hard to believe that Soldner-X 2: Final Prototype released over 10 years ago so see why it's such a classic via this Definitive Edition.
Way back in the PS3 days (it feels weird saying that), I fell in love with Söldner-X: Himmelsstürmer and its sequel Söldner-X 2: Final Prototype as they reminded me of the classic PS1 shmup Einhänder as they feature a variety of satisfying weapons, tight challenging arcade shooting action, a selection of powerful ships, and secrets to discover that actually alter and expand the campaign in interesting ways. Well, it's been over a decade since Söldner-X 2: Final Prototype released and we now have a Definitive Edition available for PlayStation 4 which is awesome. I mean, it would have been awesomer if it was available for PS5 but I digress. If you're a fan of shoot 'em ups and haven't played this gem yet then allow me to explain just why it's such a great modern interpretation of the genre.
Söldner-X 2: Final Prototype is one of those somewhat slow-paced horizontal shmups in the same vein as the R-Type franchise where you shoot an array of projectiles while weaving through clouds of enemy bullets. As you progress, you'll unlock a variety of weapons and there's a selection of 3 ships as well so experimenting with whichever combination works best for your play-style is great fun. I personally prefer swapping between Thor's tricky bounce laser and scatter gun but others may prefer Mexxus II's powerful magma cannon and more standard bullet gun. Anyway, as you play, you'll gather a large amount of power-ups that'll increase your score multiplier, make you go faster, grant you a 3rd weapon that you can swap to whenever you wish, allow you to deploy a bomb-style shock wave attack, and even heal. There are also 5 secret keys to gather in each level that are necessary to unlock further stages so watch carefully!
On top of the variety of fun pick-ups, Söldner-X 2: Final Prototype features tight and intuitive gameplay, carefully-crafted stages that include plenty of unique and challenging situations, and a phenomenal collection of boss fights. However, perhaps the coolest aspect about it is the incredibly rewarding array of gameplay and scoring mechanics. For example, gathering golden chain rings will eventually grant you a bonus item and your play rank will grow as you play which increases the level of challenge as well as your score. Throw in elements like chaser options, weapon power, berserker mode that activates when your health is low, and limit attacks that are powered by picking up weapons and you're left with one fully-featured shooter. Plus, increasing your player level for bonuses, climbing the online rankings, and completing tough challenges from a lengthy list adds even more replay value for those who can't get enough.
Of course, this is the Definitive Edition of Söldner-X 2: Final Prototype so what does that mean exactly? For starters, it performs very well on PlayStation 4 with crisp visuals and a steady 60fps framerate that allows you to seamlessly focus on the action. There are virtually no loading times as well which is great. This high degree of performance really makes the detailed stages and enemy sprites pop and the audio is top-notch, too, with great electronic music, urgent voice-overs, and gratifying effects. With that being said, the only actual content that was added is an image gallery which is cool but I wish there was more. Of course, I should mention that you get all of the DLC as well. Finally, I wish that some aspects were modernized and fine-tuned a bit more. For example, it's often unclear where the ceiling and floor is exactly so you may fly up to dodge a projectile, quickly realise that you can't, and take an unfortunate hit.
Söldner-X 2: Final Prototype is one of the best shoot 'em ups ever made and this Definitive Edition is an excellent incarnation of it that every genre fan needs to add to their gaming library. I sincerely hope to play Söldner-X 3: The Last Mission one of these days.
- + Incredible 2D shooting action with oodles of rewarding systems
- + Looks, sounds, and performs fantastically
- + Lots of challenges and replay value
- - Some dated aspects could have used a bit more fine-tuning
- - Not much content has been added