PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate is game that isn’t about shooting. I think rescue would be a more appropriate title. Your goal is to save a group of scientists trapped from an expedition gone wrong. You need to fend off some hostile wildlife but for the most part you battle is against the planet itself. This fight against the elements is what makes Shooter such a compelling game.
You control your ship’s movement with the two analog sticks. Pressing right trigger will shoot and left trigger send out your hook. Firing the hook at stranded scientists is all that’s needed to pick them up. Firing at enemies will cause your ship to overheat. Managing your ship’s temperature can mean the difference between life and death. Lava is a common sight and getting close will put you in danger fast. Yet water can be a lifesaver, entering a pool will cool your ship immediately. Water colliding with lava will harden it, allowing you to destroy and proceed. Lava will also ignite gas, melting ice. These are just examples of how elements affect each other. Once gas, ice, slime and others get thrown into the mix, Shooter succeeds as a clever puzzle game.
Not content to leave you at the mercy of the elements, Shooter also wants you to explore. Gems are hidden in each stage along with the scientists. You don’t need to find each gem, but the boss of each world requires you to have a certain amount of gems. This can lead to some backtracking if you didn’t find enough on your first run. Each world consists of 5 stages and a boss. 6 worlds to complete makes Shooter a longer game than you might expect. This is because PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate is actually Shooter 1 and 2 together. Ultimate presents them both as a single campaign. It could be argued that this is the best way to play Shooter. The more challenging sequel makes up the back half of the campaign. This difficulty curve makes Ultimate a more complete game.
The online part of Shooter 2 is present here as well. Although my experience wasn’t great, as it took a long time to find matches. But i feel that PixelJunk Shooter is meant to be played by yourself anyway. The game shines when you are trying to find how to get to that last scientist, while not overheating at the same time. Completing the more difficult stages was a rewarding challenge. The graphical update that Ultimate brings makes the game look sharper and easier to see. PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate brings two already great games into one focused package.