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Söldner-X: Himmelsstürmer

version: asia - year: 2007 - developer: side quest studios - publisher: eastasia soft - format: pc cdrom- condition: mint - rarity: hard to find

The PC CD-Rom first print comes with the OST and a nice hard-cover artbook, and is only limited to 3000 copies. Mine is n. 600/3000

 

A quality package as you can see. The game should also be released on PSN. No blue ray and XBLA release planned sofar.

 

Accumulate playing time to unlock credits and collect at least 4 keys to unlock the real last level and ending sequence (the latter an idea borrowed fromT-Zer0)

 

Gameplay will initially seem slow-paced and hard, weapons underpowered but learning the correct use of chains will change things a bit

 

16:9 is not the only screen format available as you can switch to 4:3 but since the viewing field is reduced, you'll see enemies later making the game slightly harder.

 

The descent in level 4 is challenging and keys are tricky to collect

 

The real last level is simply breathtaking as it features great deformation effects and ultra-crisp graphics

 

Getting close to the last fight, prepare for the bloodbath!!

 

Some notable Euro Side-Scrolling shooters

 
>> Menace (Amiga 500)
>> Armalyte (C-64/A500)
>> Agony (Amiga 500)
>> Disposable Hero (A500/CD32)
>> X-Out (Amiga 500)
>> Z-Out (Amiga 500)
>> Project X (A500/CD32)
>> Apidya (Amiga 500)
>> T-Zer0 (Amiga AGA/030)
>> X2 (PSOne)
>> Steel Saviour (PC CD-Rom)

 

 

 

Review - Himmelsstürmer - Def. from German: He 'charging the sky', someone who has set his mind to defy the impossible.

Söldner-X was developed by SideQuest Studios, published by Eastasiasoft and distributed online by Playasia.com.

If you take a look at the features listed, Söldner-X seems to have a lot going for it, some highlights being: 12 stages with many layers of parallax scrolling, high definition 720p (16:9 ratio) graphics, support of 2-player Co-Op Play , constant frame rate of 60 fps and the list goes on and on…

In all honesty, the cosmetics do look crisp, colorful and very detailed. The amazing graphical detail doesn't even distract from the action which is a big plus while special effects like fog, rain and lightning contribute to enhance the quality of the graphics although these same effects were present and looked even better on the earlier PC euro-shmup Steel Saviour.

I just think some bosses could have looked better and sometimes their weak spot is not immediately clear because it doesn't blink when hit (which I think it can be a bit frustrating if you don't know where to shoot).

Also, boss-fights will seem to drag for too long...but that's until you find the right strategy. For example, it is actually possible to get rid of level 4 boss in less than a minute if you figure out its weaknesses and the safe-spots! Explosions are very spectacular just like in Border Down with which Söldner-X also shares the ultra-crisp and slightly cold-looking graphics.

On the audio front, things couldn't have been better since the soundtrack (from the same guy who composed the OST of Last Hope) is simply unbelievable with quality euro electronic/trance tracks which suit the game flawlessly.

Interestingly, when your health bar gets low and starts flashing red (berserker mode), the BGM will switch to a more dramatic track signalling the extreme danger of the condition in which your ship currently is…a few more hits and you're history!

All this certainly sounds attractive, also because the game runs directly off the CD without requiring any installation, giving an additional arcade/console feel to the package but there are two basic things a good shooter should provide above all: fun and balance.

When I picked up Söldner-X, my first impressions hadn't been the best. Despite the fabulous audio-visuals gameplay seemed to be uneventful and linear.

By that, I mean that initially boring enemy patterns, coupled with an underpowered arsenal and a slightly sloppy-feeling pace didn't convince me. Söldner-X pays homage to a few glorious euro-shmups of the past such as Project X, Apidya, T-Zer0 on the Amiga and X2 on PS. The problem with these games is that most of the time they looked excellent but were lacking on the gameplay-side, meaning their balance was off and that they really weren't all that fun.

After giving Söldner-X a few tries, I suddenly realized that most of the problems I had with the game could be overcome by learning to use the chaining system and the berserker mode. The chaining system consists on switching weapon when the Chain Count bar gets orange/red or when the game tells you to switch weapon. Doing this will increase the score and by completing a chain, you'll also release an extra (such as additional health, an additional satellite etc).

Learning to use the chaining system is therefore fundamental to stand a chance in this game although, you'll sometimes find yourself in the position to switch weapon when you really shouldn't! Not all weapons are as effective against certain types of enemies, so you'll have to do the best you can, choosing between chaining or surviving! This has been seen as a major flaw in the gameplay mechanics, although I think it actually adds a bit of strategy to an otherwise linear shooter.

Also, when your energy bar reaches 20%, you'll get into the berserker mode in which you'll inflict more damage. This also adds a bit of spice (and hope) to an otherwise very challenging shooter.

There are 6 difficulty levels but you'll probably end up playing only on very easy such is the challenge ahead of you. By accumulating playing time, you'll be granted additional continues while by collecting keys, (you'll need at least four in each stage), you'll be granted access to the final level and the real ending sequence…

Moreover, by registering online, you'll have the chance to upload your statistics (Rankings, High-scores and Most Lethal) and check them on the official website www.soldner-x.com.

In the end, all the factors above-mentioned greatly improve the re-playability of this package…

What are you waiting for, young starfighter?! The galaxy needs you too!!!

Bottom line: a nice traditional shooter with great audio-visuals and gameplay on the tougher side....8/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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