Review: Space Marshals 2 – If The Hat Fits, Wear It

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Despite originally releasing as a mobile title, this feels every part the console experience. You’ll require a controller to play it, which is always an indication with Apple TV games that a studio has gone all-in on the port, rather than attempting a quick, lazy crossover that merely works.

For example, being able to zoom in and out of a game’s map is a feature I always assume will be there in PlayStation or Xbox titles, and I’m disappointed when it’s omitted. On Apple TV however, I hope for features such as this, but I’m more surprised when they are there, as my expectations are calibrated to the hardware. With more fully-featured titles coming to ATV lately, such as Xenoraid and of course this one – Space Marshals 2 – my expectations are slowly expanding.

There are two ways to approach missions – loud and proud, or quiet as a mouse. Stealth seems to be a difficult thing to achieve with any real satisfaction in games, but Pixelbite have made it very satisfying indeed. A common issue with games that try to incorporate stealth is to result in overly complex mechanics. Space Marshals 2 however, applies a simple method of hitting the left trigger to toggle in and out of stealth mode, combined with visible cones of sightline from enemies. Sneaking up from behind requires no more action other than getting close enough, and when you do, a stealth take-down animation kicks in, and your work is done. Sneaking from cover to cover taking down baddies – or completely avoiding them – results in pure and satisfying fun, rather than awkward finger-gymnastics.

I found the best way to tackle Space Marshals 2 was by employing a combination of both approaches, and the tools at your disposal allow for some great tactical gameplay. Some of the enemies in later missions have a small tank’s worth of armour, but where there’s a will, there’s a way. How about some well-placed proximity mines, followed by throwing some rocks to draw their attention in the right direction? A mine blown up in their face, followed by a shot from your crossbow loaded with explosive-tipped arrows, will quickly see that armour thinning out. The crossbow takes a second to reload, so quickly switching to your handgun for the finishing touches takes care of that problem. It’s just one example of a great scaffold provided to the player, upon which favoured tactics can be built and implemented.

Did I mention there’s actually a story as well? An outlaw band calling themselves the Rattlers are creating mischief, but nothing the law – you – can’t handle. Small potatoes soon escalate to a risk of  global annihilation though, and while the intricacies often pass over your dim-witted hero’s hat, his true grit (or pure stupidity?) means he never backs down from danger. The story is solid fun and played for laughs, making the short textual conversations prior to missions well worth reading.

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The 20 missions available can be replayed for greater rewards, and this update bringing ATV support adds 4 bonus missions as well. I’d say it took nearly 10 hours to complete the main campaign, which is great bang for your buck, and the quality on offer here makes it doubly so.

So which is my favourite hat?

*** Hat Spoiler Alert ***

I’m a huge fan of the work of Hunter S. Thompson, and while I may be wrong, I suspect The Huntsman is a nod and a wink to the great man, and I wore it with pride.

*** End of Hat Spoiler Alert ***

iCloud saving across your devices big and small, means you can take your game with you on the go, a touch that’s becoming increasingly desired in consoles of the 21st century.

It’s early in the year being only March, but I’m already noting Space Marshals 2 down as a strong contender for The Best Apple TV Games: Year Two. You can check out Year One’s list right here, and while you’re at it, check out these other excellent offerings that – like Space Marshals 2 – require a controller.

Having played it now on Apple’s digital-only console, in hindsight it would have been a shame to see Pixelbite’s excellent shooter limited to life as a mobile title. The console hat fits Space Marshals 2 very well.

In A Nutshell:

Pixelbite’s Space Marshals 2 is a twin-stick shooter that wears both its hats – stealth, and run and gun – exceedingly well. Console-quality fun.

If you’re new to The Apple TV Gaming Blog (ATVG), or just new to Apple TV gaming in general, or both, then the best place to get acquainted is our Best Apple TV games of 2018 article. You’ll find a great collection of games to play, and a bunch of useful links to our previous site content. Also, check out everything ATVG knows about Apple Arcade so far. Welcome aboard. Enjoy the ride.