Staring at the screen as I played The Collider 2, mesmerized by the action, my four-year-old daughter simply stated, “it’s so FAST.” I couldn’t put it any better if I tried.
Shortbreak Studios has taken the basic concept of their tunnel racer The Collider and applied a fresh coat of paint, forgoing the colorful abstracted model of the original while keeping the same basic idea. In the sequel, you control a nimble spacecraft that has to make its way through snaking tunnels full of obstacles, power cores, and collectibles to defend your home planet against an enemy force. The game’s “story,” if you can call it that, is briefly told in an loading screen cutscene, and it plays no real bearing on the game proper. But this setup isn’t even needed to appreciate what The Collider 2 really has to offer: incredibly fast, engaging, and precise action.
You’ll get your start in The Collider 2 by making your way through a series of missions with three basic objective types. The most basic level is a simple race through a cylindrical corridor where various walls, discs, lasers, spikes, and other obstacles stand in your way. The faster you go, the better you’ll perform, earning you medals that gate your progress towards more difficult sectors and more capable ships. There are slight variations on this race to the finish that incorporate power cores to blast and data to collect, but the basic structure always remains.
As you make you way through this brief campaign, the levels get faster paced and more difficult. You’ll quickly learn patterns and strategies for tackling the various forms of obstacles, and your ship’s boost will become vital to making any real progress. As you fly down the narrow corridor, though, you’ll pick up credits that you can use to upgrade your ship and increase the effectiveness of powerups you’ll find along the way. This progression is a natural way to slowly improve your skill and work towards the difficult boss battles at the end of each chapter. Once you master the controls, the campaign is relatively short, but you’ll soon learn that everything up to this point was merely training for what comes next.
The Collider 2 truly begins when you tackle the game’s endless challenge mode, which follows many of the same rules as the campaign, but drops you in a tube that goes on forever. In this mode, the only goal is to get as far as you can and rack up as many points as possible along the way. It’s similar to many games in the endless runner genre, with a few small twists that add to the excitement.
Your score multiplier is increased as you boost to insane velocity, and the multiplier keeps rising the longer you maintain a top speed. And instead of a completely random tunnel, the obstacles in your path follow a predictable pattern, ramping up the difficulty one notch at a time. The endless mode leaderboards are bound to be a place for friends and strangers alike to duke it out for top position. And with a weekly tournament system in place, there’s always a reason to come back and try to beat your own high score.
The visual presentation of The Collider 2 is nothing to write home about, but at a certain point it almost becomes incidental. When you’re a few minutes into a great endless run, inching closer and closer to the screen every second, it’s impossible to take in all the background details.
All of the pretense of a space fighter flying down the corridor of an enemy battleship fades away, and the only thing you see is the negative space of the next hole you have to glide through, and the only thing you hear is the sound of your engines beginning to overheat. There’s simply no way to focus on anything else.
This sheer sense of breakneck speed in The Collider 2 can’t be overstated. Even without motion controls, I found myself twitching and leaning in my chair to “avoid” obstacles that weren’t really there. After a particularly intense challenge run, I had to stand up and take a break, my brain still feeling the subtle sense of forward motion even though I was completely still.
My time with The Collider 2 wasn’t without a few quirks, however. In my first few hours with the game, I struggled with the gamepad controls, feeling hampered by imprecision. I fiddled with the sensitivity time and time again, but could never find a setting that felt right to me. Eventually I gave up on my controller altogether and settled on using a mouse, which instantly felt right. And aside from my bout with the game’s controls, I found the technical presentation to be lacking slightly. The graphics are a little bit jagged for my tastes, and there are no built-in options to remedy that. In fact, there are hardly any visual options at all other than simple resolution and v-sync.
Mercifully, these technical issues don’t impact the performance or gameplay, which remains top-notch. After a few hours into The Collider 2 I felt myself becoming one with my ship, focusing intently as I whizzed fearlessly past obstacle after obstacle, pushing myself to the limits of my reaction time and motor skills.
This review is based on the PC version of the game, which was provided to us.