Back in March of last year Fish Labs rolled out their space trading title Galaxy on Fire, giving folks like me who missed out on the 1984 classic Elite a chance to make a name for themselves out there among the stars. It's a great game that debuted with some difficulty issues, but they were resolved in short order and its universe has been enjoyed by many. Tonight, the studio released a new challenge for space jockeys everywhere, the sequel Galaxy on Fire 2 [App Store] for the iPhone, with an iPad version to follow close behind.

The game places you in the role of space fighter pilot Keith Maxwell who encounters a space anomaly and ends up adrift through the galaxy, to be rescued by a benevolent miner who helps you get back on your feet. You'll quickly find you've not only been transported to to the other side of the galaxy, but that you've woken up 35 years in the future. Kind of like Sigourney Weaver.

Your goal is to get back to your home system on the other side of the galaxy, but achieving that goal is going to take some time, and what better way to fill that time than by taking on various missions across the region's 20 star systems. You start out with a relatively weak, modestly outfitted ship, but there's money to be made and upgrades to be had along the way. Jobs ranging from cleaning up space garbage to mining asteroids to transporting goods to hunting pirates to rescuing kidnapped officers can be had in the various stations in each system on the vast star map. And, if that seems too harrowing, money can be made in the simple buying and selling of simple commodities from one station to another. Like father of the genre Elite, it's a game you can take at your own pace.

Each star system consists of a handfull of planets, each with a space station -- there are 100 in all -- complete with a hanger in which to buy and sell goods as well as a Space Lounge. In each station's lounge can be found individuals of many sorts, most of whom are eager to do business with you. Some want to send you to a neighboring planet to do their bidding, while others seek to send you to other systems much father afield, requiring a multi-leg journey across the star map, involving jumpgates that can send you to strange and distant systems. And all this against the backdrop of the tyranny of the evil alien race known as the Voids.

Seeing real success in the game required careful ship and equipment choices. For instance, some ships offer up the valuable contents of their cargo holds when destroyed, but without a pricey tractor beam, you can't touch them. The same goes for asteroid mining -- without the proper gear, that booty is beyond your reach. It's all about successful missions and wise income management.

The game offers a choice of virtual stick or tilt-based controls with contextual action buttons to fire primary and secondary weapons. In addition, there are two view modes: standard and free view, which allows for swipe-based, any-angle  camera controls of the battlefield action with pinch and spread zoom support. The free view mode is an opportunity to partake in some real eye-candy, allowing you to contrive cinematic aspects through which to view the game's impressive starfields and volumetric dust clouds which take advantage of the iPhone 4's Retina display, where available. (And a different vantage can actually be helpful in a heated battle against a swarm of space pirates.) An option setting offers three different detail settings, the default being the highest on our iPad test system.

Hitting various gameplay milestones (returning to base nearly mangled, talking to more than 20 traders, etc.) will trigger in-game achievements, which are tied to integration with both OpenFeint and Apple's Game Center.

While I enjoyed the time I spent with the original Galaxy on Fire, the sequel feels a more well-rounded and immersive. More polished. Everything just kind of flows together more smoothly this time around. And, while I've spent a significant amount of time with a pre-release build, I've really only scratched the surface of the gameplay the title has to offer.

The space trading / commerce genre is certainly not a sparsely populated one out there across the many available gaming platforms. And in the App Store, Fish Labs isn't the only gig in town. But of the games of this sort I've spent time with, Galaxy on Fire 2 is the most approachable and satisfying on the platform, so I highly recommend it.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Dendory

    Looking good so far!

  • Bryan Duke

    I played soooo many hours of Elite as a kid. Gotta love the Apple II. This looks sweet - hitting "buy" now!

    • kel808

      Same here but on the Acorn Electron!
      Instabuy from me.

      • Bryan Duke

        108MB....and THIS would be the night my internet is pig slow.

  • Wegmans

    But the ship looks the same all the way through the video. Are the customizations not visible?

    • Hobgoblin

      They're using the same ship throughout the video - when you buy a new ship it looks and acts VERY differently. Almost all my (in-game) money goes on new ships - they're awesome!

  • TowerDefender

    Aww where's the ipad version?

    • Artimonio

      Ipad ver will be released in november, when it will be avaible the new ios version for ipad. This is related, i think, with the web gaming option the new ios will offers.

    • Hobgoblin

      Coming soon, apparently. An update will turn the iPhone version into a universal version. Also, the price will increase when this happens, so it's good advice to buy it now - even if you only want it for the iPad.

  • Stan Winstone

    Can we please get an icon or something on this site to tell us at a glance if an app fully supports retina display? That's pretty much right after price and is it a good game as the top 3 deciding factors on whether or not I get a game...

    • deadclown

      ditto 🙂

    • Noman

      Heh, I know how you feel now that I have my 4g touch. And yes, this game has full retina-display graphics.

  • Killadude290

    It's a great game, but has anyone else noticed that buy and sell prices are the same at space stations (they vary from station to station, but the buy and sell prices are the same thing) this means if you accidentally sell something, you can get it back, but how are these places making any profit? I know it's a game, but it's a simulator, it should be realistic! I hate to sound like I'm picking holes in this game, it's a great game, but this really does annoy me!

    • Rent

      I tend to believe you don't purchase the item, but get it into the chart, you buy it when you leave the station

      Hey, I thought this wasgoing to be updated as universal, is an HD version coming out? EWW 🙁

      • andrzej raczynski

        my understanding is that THIS app will be made universal with an update in a month, when the new iOS comes out.

      • Rent

        That's what I thought too but the review is confusing

      • Hobgoblin

        Yep, that's exactly what's going to happen, plus the price will bump up a little, so get it now.

    • Fred Fnord

      Umm... really? That annoys you?

      Think of it like a Craig's List for traders, not a store. If I sell a computer on Craig's List, and six hours later I need to buy it back, I am pretty likely to be able to get one for the same price I sold it for. This is how commodities commerce works in the real world, in bulk: if I want 1000 tons of corn, and I buy it, and then later on I don't need it, and nothing interesting has happened to the price of corn in the mean time, I can probably sell it for pretty much the same amount I bought it for.

  • Killadude290

    But the price is still the same... So say I had an item called 1 and I got & £100 selling 1, then to buy it from that place, it'd cost £100, when it should cost more, or am I missing something? It should be like when you trade in a game and get £3, the shop sells it for at least £5.

    • Killadude290

      *...and I got £100 selling 1...
      Above comment meant to be a reply to Rent BTW

      • Rent

        You have to sell it somewhere else. Some items will be more expensive or cheap in different stations depending the territory and tech level 🙂

      • Hobgoblin

        Yeah, the price does change at different stations. Sometimes you might have to carry an item quite a long way, but you can make some pretty decent profits buying and selling (losses, too). Buying from dodgy traders in the Space Lounge is a good way to pick up items cheap, and make a bigger profit at another station.

  • Charles Albert

    It's about time! Loved the first one, enjoying every second of this one! Great game! If you fond on space exploration/action, this one is a sure buy!

  • deadclown

    Okay, this is a bit off topic....but what are the "Reactions" posts below? The ones that seem overrun by forum bots..?

  • Jas

    So, will it be universal or not? No point in me buying it now if not.

    • Hobgoblin

      It will be universal, but there'll be a small price increase when it does, so it's worth buying now even if you only want it for iPad. The update will be free if you already own it.

  • Tokyo Dan

    Is this Space Miner repackaged as a different game?

    • Anonymous

      yeah because obviously space miner is the first space trading game ever...

      • Tokyo Dan

        The snide remarks always come from Anonymous.

      • deadclown

        Yeah, that guy's a dick.

      • Anonymous

        You have no idea what it is to be me... Oh well, no rest for the wicked...

  • Hobgoblin

    Really immersive game - can't put it down. Feel huge in scope, just like Elite and Eve Online first did. The iPhone and iPad need more games with real depth, like this one. Can't wait for the iPad update. Superb game - instapurchase.

  • Terrazzo Floor Care Lauderdale

    'Galaxy on Fire 2' — A Great, New Space Trader.

  • Terrazzo Floor Care Lauderdale

    'Galaxy on Fire 2' — A Great, New Space Trader.

  • Terrazzo Floor Restoration

    The free view mode is an opportunity to partake in some real eye-candy.

  • Terrazzo Floor Restore Miami

    'Galaxy on Fire 2' — A Great, New Space Trader

  • Maintain Terrazzo Boca Raton

    You'll quickly find you've not only been transported to to the other side of the galaxy

  • the nailgun kid

    excellent game, wasnt expecting this at all on ipad and have been well and truly sucked in

  • Dgf

    tryied it new controls are rubbish

  • Carpet Cleaning Boca Raton

    Nice video. Thanks for proving this.

  • Kevin

    only cirtan customisations are visible, like turrets, guns, cirtain armor. if you want a big design change buy one of over 30 ships on sale.

  • Koowie

    I like playing on the iPad with the bigger screen.

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  • Darkgamerone

    im hyped on this game just got it amazing

  • nttaylor

    Is this supposed to be good? Although you get an instructions on how to direct the ship, speed up and slow down, there's loads of other controls and displays with no explanation. What are they for? On the first mining mission I kept targeting asteroids but just kept crashing into them until I died. Controls did nothing that I could figure out. Ship also handles like a bloated space cow. This is like Space Miner except slow, humorless, and with worse music. I'll try again but after one play I don't get what people see in it.