When you pick up Soldner-X, the new action game for the PC, the first thing you'll notice is how nicely packaged it all is. For Eastasiasoft's first release this is a damn good start, definitely a lot more professional than what we're used to seeing from other upstarts. The box is very nice and in addition to the game disc (which comes packaged in a DVD case with artwork) you also get the soundtrack and a hardbound art/info book (along with some other documents such as a standard manual and your certificate number, mine is #200 of 3000). This is definitely a very slick package indeed. Soldner-X makes a great first impression.
After checking the packaging out I popped the game into my old decrepit laptop (I managed to meet the recommended system requirements thankfully). The first thing you'll notice, and it's a pleasant surprise, is that the game doesn't try to install itself or any other junk to your PC, instead it just boots from the disc itself. I like this as my laptop is limited in storage capacity it was nice for a change not to have to wait an hour or more for the game to install and have it hog several gigs of valuable space on my hard drive. I was also pleasantly surprised to find the game ran quite well on my ancient laptop so rest assured that regardless of your setup if its' no older than five years you shouldn't have too many problems.
The first thing I did once the game was launched was head to the options menu to set things up. Here you'll find the usual stuff: Resolution settings, audio settings, difficulty settings, etc. Here is where I find two issues with the game: If you want to change the resolution (or any other option), you have to first change it and then save the change by hitting the button (or enter). This did not seem obvious to me. The first couple times I tried it; I changed the option and then just went down to the next option. I assumed that I had changed the options, and I went back to playing the game, but it didn't seem any different. This is a minor annoyance, but I think it's worth mentioning.
Another issue I had was that if you change the option for High Scores from offline to online, you will have to enter a username/password. Then, at the top of the screen, you will see some status messages about connecting/connected/etc. I didn't see a way to view the online scores in the game, but you can go to the Soldner-X community website to check out your competition.
The intro cinema is well acted and sets up the game fairly well. It's not some ultra-in-depth full-motion video, Iit's more of a storyboard style intro. These things can be cheesy when done poorly, but I didn't get that feeling. The art is good, and the voice acting is good. There's not much more to say about it.
The artwork in the game itself is all excellent, too. It really is nice. The voicing in the game is a bit odd at times, but it's not something that occurs often so it's not a big issue. I guess maybe what I thought was odd about it is that it's in a German accent. In a way, it gives it some good flavor.
The gameplay is pretty much what you would expect from a typical shooter. You have power-ups, you shoot things till they die and eventually you run into a huge boss that you need to take down. Now since this is a PC game I played using my keyboard which I don't recommend, you'll want to get yourself some sort of arcade stick or a control pad (a 360 control or X Arcade Stick would be great). I wouldn't say the game is terribly challenging on the easier levels, if you're a shooter veteran I recommend cranking it up to the highest difficulty setting to fully enjoy the game.
I was expecting a new fun shooter, but I was willing to settle for some skimping on graphics and production value, that's not what I got. What I received was a top-notch game with excellent graphics and professional production values. If you're a shooter fan I highly recommend picking Soldner-X up. The 50 dollar asking price is a great deal and will scratch that old school itch a lot of you probably have. The PC isn't known for its stunning 2D shooters, so it's nice to be able to recommend one when one comes around. This is definitely worth checking out.
Don't be turned off by the unusual name, Soldner-X is one of the very few PC shoot-em-ups that is worth your time. If you're looking for an exciting 2D shooter that will take you back to the good old days of the 1980s, then Soldner-X should definitely be on your radar!
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!