Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome. Here is one cool enough to keep you busy during this weekend.
Galaxy on Fire 2 ($4.99 Universal, $19.99 Mac) is a third-person, flight-based shooter where you navigate a star fighter in the vast emptiness of space. It’s the type of game where if the smooth graphics and 3D realism do not amaze you, then the rich and detailed storyline certainly will.
A large portion of the game is spent navigating a space craft from a third-person perspective. To control the variety of different craft in the game, you use a virtual d-pad controller on the left side of the screen. A tappable fire button on the right side of the screen, as well as other controls, are easy to reach when using the iPad to play. On iOS devices equipped with an accelerometer like the iPhone, you can also elect to use a tilt-based control system where you can tip and turn your device to navigate the spacecraft. The OS X version of the game can be controlled by keyboard, mouse, or an optional gamepad.
On all platforms, you are free to fly anywhere within the vast openness of space. Another nice feature that works well on all platforms is the ability to save your game’s progress to iCloud. Since the same saved game is retrievable on all platforms, you can continue playing out the adventure from wherever you choose.
With an almost Buck Rogers-like storyline, the hero of this adventure, Keith T. Maxwell, is thrown across the galaxy some 35 years into the future. The accident that put him so far from home also left him without his now ancient star fighter. All he has to get him safely back home again is his skill as a fighter pilot, which is of course your skill as a fighter pilot. And that is how the story begins. On this epic journey, you can elect to take the most direct course home, or you can deviate from time to time and accept one of many freelance opportunities available in the game.
Being so far from his home planet there are quite a few star systems that you need to cross in order to make it home. Each one of these different systems have has its own unique, story-based challenges. There are space stations orbiting the planets of each system where you start to earn and spend your money. The in-game commerce system is very easy to get caught up in. Sometimes you start to think that the side missions are the main part of the game.
Your spacecraft is equipped with mining equipment that you can use to earn a quick buck or two without having to risk your neck fighting against space pirates. While this is always an option, you find that it can take some time to earn large sums of money. As you start to frequent the space lounges on each station, you learn that you can earn even more cash by hiring yourself out as a mercenary.
In these space lounges you can meet the most interesting people. The one thing they all seem to have in common is that they all need help: some want cargo delivered, others a security escort, and some just want to fly around the galaxy to see who can shoot down the most enemy space craft. You reputation in the game is based on what challenges you choose to accept, and how well you do.
Within each station there is also a hangar where you buy and sell items you need and collect along the way. Among these are upgrades you can use on your spacecraft. From larger weapons, to faster engines and stronger armor, you will find that the upgrades you can purchase for your spacecraft are tailored specifically for the kind of person that wants to be flying in the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy.
If you so choose, you could end up getting so involved with all of the side missions that you never finish the game and make it home. You start to look forward to meeting certain individuals in the lounges on each space station. Whatever path you choose to take, there is definitely enough to keep you occupied for the long holiday weekend.