game reviews and playing tips: Pocket PC games
Anthelion 2: Celestial Vigilance by PDAMill, $19.95
Reviewed March 2006 by Marc Morgan
Back in 2003, PDAMill released Anthelion (add link), a unique space combat game for the Pocket PC. Unlike other space combat games, Anthelion allowed you to fight in a completely 3D environment. Not only did it have excellent gameplay, but it also featured a great storyline to keep you addicted to the game. Now, PDAMill has released the sequel to that Pocket PC hit, Anthelion 2. In Anthelion 2, after several years of peace, the Bedouin Traders have discovered a deadly secret from the past, which caused an ancient power to be released. You play the role of a fighter-pilot in the Anthelion Federation, where your job is to protect the galaxy at all costs, even if it means fighting against your allies.
The gameplay in Anthelion 2 is very different from Raiden type of 2-D scrolling shooter games because the environment is completely three-dimensional. This means your ship can move in many directions, just like a flight simulator, and so can your enemies. Anthelion 2 uses a mission-based storyline. At the beginning of each mission, you will start at your home base. You will then use the jump gate to jump to different locations to actually complete the missions, and then jump back to your home. During a mission, there will be certain tasks to complete. Tasks can range from collecting items, to destroying obstacles, to protecting ships, and destroying the enemy.
Of course, before you can start a mission, you need to have a ship! There are ten different ships, each has different stats and weapons. Each ship comes equipped with unlimited laser blasts, and a limited supply of more powerful ammunition. While you are flying, there is a crosshair in the center of the screen. This shows where you are aiming. If an enemy ship is within range of your fire, the crosshair will turn red, and a large red circle showing your firing range will show up. If you fire while the enemy ship is close enough, you will be able to hit it. After a certain number of hits, the ship will go down. If you are focusing more on flying, you can turn autofire on. Autofire will automatically fire your laser when an enemy is close enough. Be aware, close encounters can also mean high risk for your ship to go down. On the left side of the screen, close to the middle, there are two bars. One shows shield, and the other shows health. On the right side of the screen, there is a diagram of your ship, which shows damage.
There are also two gameplay modes. Campaign mode is where you need to complete all the missions in the game following the storyline. Free Game mode can be played in two ways: Replay and Survival. Replay simply lets you replay the missions you have completed in Campaign mode. Survival mode will put you into space combat that only ends when you die, and as you beat enemies, the game will get harder. These action packed gameplay modes make Anthelion 2 very addictive.
The controls in Anthelion 2 are fairly easy to master, and they can be reconfigured to your liking. The D-Pad is used for steering the ship. You can also invert the controls, just like other 3D flying games. There are buttons for accelerating, braking, locking onto a target, changing weapons, firing, and jumping. Of course, if your device does not have enough buttons, you can use the screen.
The graphics in Anthelion 2 are absolutely stunning. The space environment is completely three-dimensional, including all the ships, items, and space stations. The items look realistic and to make the environment more space-like there are stars in the background and bits of debris that zoom by as you travel in the environment. Just like most new PDAMill games, Anthelion 2 fully supports VGA screens. Space combat looks even more stunning on a Hi-Res screen. The graphics in Anthelion 2 are definitely some of the best graphics available on the Pocket PC platform!
Anthelion is complete with music and sound effects. Music wise, Anthelion has about 30 minutes of music composed by renowned PDA music composer Jason Surguine. The music is very high quality, and suits the game well. Anthelion 2 has no shortage of sound effects either. There are sound effects for when you hyperjump, fire, receive messages over the radio, when fighters zoom by, and more. The sound effects are very realistic and make the game more enjoyable like the sound of roar when a fighter ship zooms by your ship.
Once again, PDAMill has released a game of the highest caliber for the Pocket PC. Anthelion 2 goes beyond the expectations of a space combat game, and provides an awesome experience. There is an excellent storyline, unlike many other space combat games. The gameplay is extremely addictive and action-packed. The graphics are stunning with VGA support, so you can fight in high resolution. Lastly, the music is excellently composed, and the sound effects are very realistic. PDAMill has created yet another hit!
Playing Hints and Tips
• Try turning on autofire if you want to focus on flying your ship
• If you need to defeat a large ship, switch to a more powerful weapon
• For smaller ships, use only the laser, as it is unlimited, and it is wise to save the powerful weapons for large ships
• If you continuously fail a mission, switch to Replay mode and enhance your skills by beating other missions first
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
The graphics are utterly stunning for a space combat game for the Pocket PC with VGA support.
The developers pay a lot of attention to the music and didn’t skim on sound effects.
The gameplay takes you onto another action-jammed journey with new storyline. Gameplay modes make the game fun to play. It starts out fairly easy, and increasingly gets harder to deliver a nice challenge.
Space shooter fans will keep coming back to the game. If you are good enough to master the control and shooting skills, this game can provide endless fun.