Monday, May 23, 2011

Video Games: Galaxy on Fire 2

Update 8/25/2012
I notice a lot of people arrive at this page searching for help with certain situations in Galaxy on Fire 2 (especially since the game is now available for PC on Steam). I have beaten the main story as well as the expansion DLC and would be willing to answer any specific questions related to certain instances in the game. Just post a comment below and I will respond in kind. I played the game on a 3rd generation iPod Touch so my help may not be specific to your platform. 
I've always been a big fan of mobile games since the dawn of the cell phone. I miss the old Nokia phones that played snake. iOS has proved to be one of the most versatile gaming platforms of the last few years and I've been consistently impressed by the capability for many good games. Galaxy on Fire 2 is a space trading, dogfighting, adventure game developed by Fishlabs for iOS as a sequel to Galaxy on Fire. I've played Galaxy on Fire (I got it for free when GoF 2 came out), but I could never get into it as GoF 2 proved so much better that I couldn't couldn't go back to the old version. GoF 2 now has a story expansion available as DLC, but I have yet to purchase it. Perhaps I'll release a review of that once I've completed it.


Combat is merely an accessory to Galaxy on Fire 2, but it's still a very important part of the game. Most of the story objectives (it's been a while since I've played the story) do involve combat, but it isn't emphasized. All of GoF 2's movement takes place through the third person perspective of a fighter sized space ship (although comparing the size to some of the passing cruisers reveals it is actually comparable to the Normandy from Mass Effect). This also proves a good venue for combat as a large portion of it is spent maneuvering your ship into position and unleashing fire at the location where the enemy ship will be. It's essential to have a good scanner when using lock-on weapons and tractor beams as this will greatly improve your ability to freely move and dodge fire while inflicting damage on enemies. Abilities such as the speed boost items and cloaking also greatly enhance combat. Cloaking is invaluable to survive some of the game's more longer and grueling fights (such as the final battle and the DLC fight to take Kaamo from multiple pirate bases). Turrets are also an interesting addition, however, I find that they're practically useless and overpriced as they require your ship to fly in a straight line and cease all weapons activity other than the turret. The turret must also be controlled manually, and while it has a very good range, even the best turrets suffer from slow rates of fire and lack of maneuverability. GoF 2's combat is fairly well rounded with the only issue being the difficulty of taking evasive action. Overall, it's better to eliminate as many enemies as you can before they damage you; cloaking is essential.

Exploration is by far the most appealing feature of Galaxy on Fire 2. With the graphics on maximum for any iOS device (particularly iPad), the game is absolutely beautiful as your ship soars through space across multiple planets in multiple systems. The full galaxy map (once you have access to it after the beginning story events) presents a massive amount of systems and planets (each planet has an orbital space station which you visit). I believe I've visited at least 100 stations during my playing time and the new DLC should add even more. The game allows you to travel within a system by locking onto planets and flying to them quickly, but travel between systems involves reaching a station with a "jumpgate" that accelerates you to the planet of your choosing in another adjacent system.

Story Mechanics
From the very beginning Galaxy on Fire 2 is a very beautiful game. However, the initial story leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion. The voice acting is average for an iOS game (which by my standards is not very good). The on-board ship computer, while only heard in the very beginning of the game was so cheesy that I almost stopped playing. Luckily GoF 2's amazing graphics and mechanics kept me playing. The rest of the voice acting in the game, including Keith T. Maxwell (the PC) is not half bad. The opening dialog (after the hyperspace incident that transports your character to another part of the galaxy plus a few years) is also odd in the impression that it leaves. However, the rest of the story seems to flow fairly smoothly without too many quirks. Many of the story objectives simply involve flying from one place to another in attempts to contact different people or gather different items needed to create something. The story is easily left alone for quite a bit while your character gathers the necessary equipment to tackle some of the tougher combat sequences. Sidequests are also an important part of the game as they provide you with much needed finances to fuel your quest for better ships and weapons.

The trading system in Galaxy on Fire 2 is well managed, although it's not as prominent once your ship has been upgraded more substantially. The mining "minigame" is fairy well designed and I like the way it's incorporated into the story. The big part of the logistics system for GoF 2 is the factions system. There are 4 factions in GoF 2, Terrans (humans), Vossk, Nivelians, and Midorians. The Terrans are at odds with the Vossk and the Niverlians are at odds with the Midorians. The game has an "affiliation meter" in which doing certain quests for certain factions can result in anything from slight to major shifts in your allies. For instance, accepting a quest from a Terran that involves destroying a convoy carrying illegal goods may result in the destruction of several Vossk ships. This usually results in a major shift on the meter from Vossk to Terran (the Vossk and Terran meter is completely separate from the Midorian Nivelian meter). With the new update, signatures are now available that can be found by destroying ships from different factions (pirates are a nonfaction). When equipped, these signatures alter your allies to that of the affiliation of the signature (for instance, equipping a Nivelian signature puts you at war with the Midorians and highly in favor of the Terrans over the Vossk). The only thing I don't like about this meter is the fact that it means nothing within the story and only means that certain ships will attack you or you'll have to pay a bribe to dock at an enemy station. Your status may be shifted to "not at war" by representatives who will offer you to erase your record in exchange for money.


Galaxy on Fire 2 is complimented by a fairly good mix of orchestral and electronic score; certainly more than I would expect from an iOS game. There is music for the four different factions for both noncombatant space exploration and when docked at a station. There is 3 variations on the combat theme that vary in intensity based on the number of enemies. The music may get a little repetitive sometimes, but it is overall very enjoyable.

Each faction has unique ship, station, and jumpgate design making for an overall better exploration experience.

If it's on sale, buy it. Ten bucks is a lot, but it's a fantastic game, especially for iPad.

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