When I first heard that Radiangames was working on a sequel to my favorite arcade shooter from 2010, I felt a little hesitant. Isn’t this a little too soon? It had only been five months since the original’s release. What more could Luke Schneider do with an inventive, yet simplistic game?
But after playing Crossfire 2 for a few waves, it didn’t matter: this game is awesome. As with the first one, I became instantly hooked, swinging my ship from top to bottom, dodging an array of lasers from neon foes in a deviate Space Invaders style. The design feels instantly familiar to anyone who has ever visited an arcade, but it’s that novel twist—the teleporting between the top and bottom platforms and the tactile feedback it gives—that makes the game such an enticing and satisfying experience.
There appears to be fewer enemies on screen in comparison to the first game, but their behaviors are just as varied and difficult, almost to a point where getting hit is a guarantee. And while the visual and musical styles remain mostly unchanged, it’s the amount of polish and new features that make it worthwhile. Instead of just having one mode like the first game, Crossfire 2 is divided into three: Conquest, Conquest Plus (which you have to unlock by completing the latter), and Score Attack.
The conquest modes are for those who wish to focus on progressing through the waves without the fear of losing points from dying, and that’s because there are no points. But if you think to yourself, “I score points, therefore I exist,” Score Attack is a better fit. And what’s even better is the scoreboard that ranks you against all online and local players.
At the beginning of each mode and during any part of the game, you can toggle between three levels of difficulty that vary the toughness, speed and other attributes of the enemies. What I love most about these new options and modes is that they make the game more accessible to a wider audience. You no longer have to be an arcade elitist to excel and complete all the waves, but if you are, there’s plenty of room.
One of the other major additions to the sequel is a new ship upgrade system that occurs every few waves. At the beginning of every mode, a finite number of points are given to attribute to certain aspects of your ship including health, speed, shot power, and firing rate. This new mechanism allows you to customize your ship in a way that supports your own play-style, and it also replaces the annoying modifiers from the first game that lowered point bonuses while in use.
Once you buff up your ship, the amount of force you can expunge onto your enemies is empowering to an overwhelming and joyous degree—so much, in fact, that my brother started laughing maniacally while playing. And if that isn’t a sign that you should get the game, I’d say you’re mad.
Crossfire 2 was provided for review by Radiangames. It is available for 80 MS points ($1).