Every space adventure is condemned to several sequels and one of my favourite space traders for iOS is following the same path of other sci-fi sagas - for the joy of its fans.
Galaxy on Fire 2 Valkyrie [iTunes Link] is the unexpected second chapter of the popular Galaxy on Fire 2: a further twist in the story of the space mercenary in Fishlabs' universe. Available as an add-on within the game as DLC content, it adds extra features to the game without losing your previous saved games. This is in fact, one of the first game extensions in the App Store that ties in exactly where you left it after playing hours in the standard version of Galaxy on Fire 2.
If you are new to the franchise, the protagonist Keith T. Maxwell started the second game in the future, after spending years stuck in time due to a malfunction on it's hyperdrive. Although Valkyrie starts when you left (assuming you completed the game), it feels like another huge jump in the future. The extra content available supports this theory, as enemies will upgrade its weapons, ships and battle stations, making you feel that everyone got all the goodies while you were busy in a corner of the universe.
To start with, Valkyrie includes three new "Space-Odyssey-inspired" white ships manufactured by your old friends Khandor and Carla at the Deep Space laboratories. Compared with the existing arsenal available for the four factions, they look and behave super-futuristic. But will they be enough to ditch your old beloved Terran Veteran or pirate Mantis?
The new add-on also caters for old-time fans of the GOF saga, including retro versions of ships available on the first title including the Phantom Fighter, the Wraith and the Vol Noor. Others have been refurbished and sport new stats and can equip new items.
So what's new that you haven't experienced already? Blueprints to craft new equipment and weapons continue to carry the story. You'll need to meet new and old characters to assemble new toys, hunt for elusive and expensive materials and complete mercenary missions to earn a living.
Some items add new gameplay elements: remote guided missiles (really well implemented), automatic aiming turrets, mines, a Vortex machine similar to the kinesis in Death Space, which slows down time, and powerful weapons that will make you change your style of playing the game.
Without spoiling the story, this time is spins around two factions and the secret station of Valkyrie, a research centre that actually comes up with these military innovations. Just like in the first part of Galaxy on Fire 2, the dialogues continue to be below par and the story is terribly cheesy. I liked the British voice acting of Keith and the overall voiceover but it is all let down by the scripts. On side missions, the dialogues are not repetitive: they are simply the same!
With the Valkyrie add-on the game has also been improved in the graphics department. Some of the beautiful deep space backgrounds have been redrawn, textures have been refined and lighting effects in blasts and explosions have been hugely improved. The same merit goes to the music, that continues to be an important part creating atmosphere and new scores have been added for the new systems.
One of the most controversial changes is the ability to purchase the Kaamo station for your personal use to park ships and store goods. For those who can't wait, this is immediately available after paying $0.99/£0.59 via in app purchase. If you are feeling stingy, you can choose to pay for it with space credits earned in the game: it costs 30 million credits plus 50 tons of Buskat (star powder used as narcotic). To give you an idea, most missions at the space lounge have a reward between 90,000 and 150,000 credits and the big ships are priced around four million.
Having experienced how other games are trying to milk users with freemium offers, I think Fishlabs has gone for a very conservative and rewarding option for fans of the franchise. While many hardcore gamers will try to make 30 million from bounties as a goal of the game in it's own right, I also imagine that the ship collector type of player would like to save more than one ship at the time as soon as possible.
Galaxy on Fire 2 Valkyrie is an unmissable premium piece for any iOS gamer. Easily sci-fi action at its best. I just can't get enough of Keith T. Maxwell.
Overall, I'm really impressed with the amount of work that has gone in the production of Galaxy on Fire 2. The developer has implemented ideas that gamers wanted in a way that make sense and complement perfectly the existing gameplay design. The add-on ramps up the game difficulty, but also understand you'll need to end the basic story first if you want to discover Valkyrie, which at times, can be challenging.
I have criticised the plot and the script, but I also understand that it's been done this way to fit in innovative missions that otherwise would have been left out. Every challenge is different from the previous one, requires different skills and strategies from the player. It took me four intense hours to go through the main Valkyrie story and I'm happy to say, that once it's over, you'll have more things to do on your own.
If you want to know how Valkyrie fares on a 1st generation iPad, I have put together a walkthrough of the last mission (Spoiler warning).