A long, long time ago in a Galaxy far, far away one of the greatest trilogies ever to be conceived was created. That trilogy is of course Star Wars: Rogue Leader, not the films. They are alright. Ever since I played those games I have been in love with dogfights in space and sadly it’s a genre that sees few releases. So along comes Manticore: Galaxy on Fire; originally made for iOS and Android, it now has landed on the Switch, but is it any good?
Manticore had a shaky release for the Switch, in fact. I received my copy and then an update for the Switch basically made the game unplayable. Now all that silly business has been dealt with I’ve been able to jump into the game developed by Deep Silver.
The Premise and Story
You take the role of a silent protagonist who is about to get shot down by space pirates, but just in the nick of time some lovely people from The Manticore mercenary group save you. They recruit you, you go on your first mission and a planet is blown up. Said event is then dubbed “The Shattering” and with a few members of Manticore being wiped out you’re now their top pilot and must embark on a journey to uncover the truth.
My experience with the story was that it serves its purpose. There aren’t a great deal of long term characters to get attached to and the ones that are there are a bit 2D, but for what is worth it the actual dialogue and interactions of certain characters were enjoyable. Particularly the AI on your ship. I should also note that the game is absolutely packed to the brim with lore to find and read through, so if you are interested in learning the background of the world that option is there
The main reason anyone plays a game like this though isn’t for the story, but blasting space scum out of space. The controls are easy to pick up getting you straight into the game and flying is very satisfying. Manticore offers a variety of different mission objectives that help make each mission feel fresh. Escorting, kill all enemies, defending, stopping ships from escaping and more are on offer. No mission is ever that long and it is designed for short bursts of play with it originally being a mobile game of course. So that is worth taking into account when playing, mission variety does help, but I found that extended periods of play did get a bit boring. Simply due to the fact that there are a lot of missions to play, but none of them ever expand on some of the mission objectives.
You’ll encounter all kinds of enemies to shoot down; turrets, scouts, heavy armoured ships and more. Keeping you thinking what is the best way to approach and which enemy you should focus on. As there are a variety of enemies you also can choose from a variety of ships, weapons and upgrades once unlocked. All have their pros and cons. Some ships can equip more devices than others, than you can pick between your primary 1, 2, and secondary weapons. The weapons all have their specific uses and are similar to actual guns. Shotgun, machine and sniper are types you will come across.
The variety in weapons, ships and missions makes the campaign in Manticore a good bit of fun to play, but it is tailored towards short sessions. However not everything works well. Two things that I found to be pretty poor were the boss fights and “exploration” after you beat a mission. At first the bosses were quite fun, but after beating a few you’ll realise that for the most part they aren’t challenging and just boil down to you chasing someone with a bit more health than you for an extra minute.
Then a very odd addition was how you obtain lore and ship upgrades. Once you beat a level you can explore it for hidden extras. It is a pretty monotonous experience, you have a droid that will help you locate the item, but it takes a while to pinpoint the exact location and it just becomes a bit of a chore after a while.
From Handheld to Home
One of the biggest issues with mobile games that are ported to the Switch is that. What’s the point? Most of the games are focused more for short bursts of gameplay and just don’t benefit from the bigger screen. Whilst the former is true for Manticore the latter certainly is not.
Manticore looks excellent on the big screen and whilst it by no means breaks the mould for technical output on the Switch I was left thinking I would never want to play this on my phone. The visuals are great and the planets in the background will catch your eye and give a nice sense of scale and grandeur to the universe you fly around in.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Manticore: Galaxy on Fire was provided by Tinsley PR for Deep Silver.