Manticore Galaxy On Fire
Developed By: Deep Silver Fishlabs
Published By: Koch Media
Category: Action, Shooter
Release Date: 4.19.18
Sometimes you’ve just gotta jump into the cockpit of a Starfighter and save the galaxy. Especially if that galaxy is on fire. So strap in and get ready for a dogfight; Manticore Galaxy On Fire for the Nintendo Switch is here to put you in the middle of the action.
Manticore Galaxy On Fire sees players assume the role of a rookie pilot serving on the mercenary ship Manticore. Your ship has been hired to protect a summit between all of the major political powers in the galaxy. Everything’s going great until pirates attack the summit and the station with all of the dignitaries blows up. The captain of the Manticore isn’t one to let his clients get blown up without a fight, so he sets his ship and crew on a path to discover the origin of the mysterious explosion and bring those behind it to justice. Or blow them up. Both would be acceptable.
The story is fairly standard, as you may have noticed from the setup, but that’s not necessarily a problem. It gives players a plausible motivation for their character and a mystery to keep them hooked. Unfortunately, that’s kind of as far as the story can take you. The supporting cast of characters are not especially interesting, owing to the fact that there is no real characterization developed for them. Their personalities are generic and their backgrounds are paper thin. They have no character arcs so there’s no reason to be invested in them. So overall the story just sort of falls flat.
Aerial combat in Manticore Galaxy On Fire is, like most of the game, solid, if unspectacular. The controls are responsive and intuitive, making the game very easy to pick up and play. You can fire weapons, boost forward, and, most satisfyingly, do a barrel roll. Unfortunately, boost and barrel roll use up your boost meter so you can’t just do unlimited rolls. It doesn’t really hurt the flow of combat, but I personally like doing barrel rolls. Peppy did a number on me.
Completing combat missions earns new equipment and upgrade points which can be used to enhance your fighters. There are nine fighters that can be unlocked overall, each with different strengths or mixtures of strengths. There are multiple types of weapons (plasma, ballistics, lasers, missiles, and EMPs, just to name a few) with different strengths. Certain bosses are weak to certain weapon types, so switching out weapons isn’t just a matter of preference.
The gameplay is smooth once it starts, but the load times are a little long, sometimes taking over 60 seconds to start a mission. I’ve seen worse load times, but they’re still kind of annoying. The game has three difficulty levels, rookie (easy), ace (normal), and veteran (hard). Rookie is almost plays itself, and veteran is all-around difficult, as the name would suggest. Normal is a little imbalanced, with the random enemies too easy and the bosses on a disproportionate level of difficulty.
Manticore Galaxy On Fire features some pretty cool sci-fi fighter and starship designs, despite some blockiness. The fighters look sleek, fast, and dangerous; like something a badass pilot should be flying. The character designs are fairly generic sci-fi faire, but they look cool anyway. The designs translate well to the game’s graphics, but things do look a little blocky. Some of the background objects look lower res than the ships, but as long as you’re in action you won’t notice. Overall, it’s a nice-looking game, but it won’t blow anyone away graphically.
The game is fully voice acted and all of the voice work is crisp and clean. The voices provide more personality to the characters than the writing, so it’s a little sad they have so little to work with. Still, they manage to inject some life into the exposition. The sound effects just sort of fall into the background with the music; the weapons sound somewhat muted, and so do the enemy ships when they explode. There’s just a visceral sense of satisfaction after a meaty explosion at the end of combat, and Manticore Galaxy On Fire just doesn’t deliver it.
There are no motion or touch controls in Manticore Galaxy On Fire, so you can play it docked or undocked as you please. This also means you can play on whatever kind of controller you prefer, Pro or Joycon. The graphics look a little tighter on the Switch’s screen in undocked mode, so I would recommend undocked play based on that. Honestly, though, the experience doesn’t differ significantly between undocked and TV play.
TL;DR: Fun but unspectacular space shooter.
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