Pixelbite got a lot right with the first Space Marshals [$3.99]. They eschewed much of what is common in dual-stick shooters on mobile, going with a slower, more thoughtful, stealth-based game. With an array of interesting weaponry and tactics at your disposal, such as using noisemakers to distract enemies to take them out away from the prying eyes of other enemies, it was a cool concept and a fun game. The controls were great for mobile, with MFi controller support, and iCloud to boot. It was not a perfect game, but a great example of how to make an original, stylish title for mobile. Plus, they updated the game with 2 new episodes months after launch. Space Marshals 2 [$4.99] returns and basically is the same game, streamlined with a couple new features, and skipping on the whole episodic aspect to give you 20 beefy levels of tactical stealth action in a space wild-west setting. And like any sequel where iteration is the key difference, it's not bad – this is the superior game – but the lack of surprise can be a bit disappointing.

Space Marshals 2 Screenshot 1

If you need to know about the core of the game, go read my Space Marshals 1 review and come back here. Okay. What differentiates Space Marshals 2 from the original is that you can now execute stealth kills. Walk up behind an enemy while in crouched mode, and you can kill them, though it takes a few seconds, so if you're spotted and shot by other enemies, it'll cancel out the kill. Still, this goes a long way to actually make the game feel like stealth is a key part of the game, because you have a way to be stealthy without making noise...or finding ways to get quiet kills. It's the kind of thing that makes the game feel a lot better than the original.

In fact, the game just feeling better than the original is the other major feature here. Since the launch version of Space Marshals and its two content expansions, Pixelbite learned a lot about how the game should flow and work – and they put all that work into making the definitive Space Marshals game. The missions have been simplified into being more straightforward affairs, but you never have to worry about mission time – now getting 5 stars is based on the number of deaths you have and occasionally a number of high-value targets killed. And there's some great loot to be had by doing well, though I got enough good stuff to not be too worried about the items I was missing by the end. But if you're the completionist type, then you have rewards. Plus, there's secret coins to be found, and hats that can be collected in the 20 levels. Heck, even with the game featuring 20 levels – and roughly 5 hours of gameplay or so – there's plenty to do here.

Space Marshals 2 Screenshot 2

The streamlining and addition of stealth kills are pretty much just what's new here. While I had to remember that stealth kills weren't in the first Space Marshals, they're such a natural addition that they feel like they were always there. But that's the issue with Space Marshals 2. When you play something new, there's that excitement of the unknown, you don't know what the game's really going to throw at you. I didn't get that with Space Marshals 2, it feels really familiar because the core of the game is the same. It's dual-stick stealth-action, it was fun the first time around, it's still a good and uncommon concept in mobile gaming, so there wasn't much need to change it, I suppose.

What I think the key here is that I felt less annoyed while playing the game than the original. There's fewer annoying snipers to deal with, the stealth kills mean that you don't have to be too-careful with hatchets or silenced pistols. In general, it felt like my deaths were a reflection of my personal failings, rather than the game throwing situations I couldn't handle, except for one situation near the end where you have to make it past 4 enemies with shock armor. Good luck getting the 5 stars on that level? And really, by working to get better weapons and armor with 5 stars, you can give yourself slight advantages I didn't have.

Space Marshals 2 Screenshot 3

Heck, even the fact that this game is a complete title, rather than an episodic one, feels like Pixelbite spent a lot of time thinking about what sucked about Space Marshals, and decided to just go all-out with the sequel. This one ends on a cliffhanger, too, and I hope that they decide to throw some new wrinkles into the formula, because further refining down something players know is fine, it's just that I think people want to be surprised over time. And Space Marshals 2 doesn't contain a lot of surprises, just a slightly better version of what came before. But as we saw with Deus Ex GO [$0.99], a third-straight game with minimal new tweaks can be a problem over time. Maybe new players will enjoy it, but the people who bought games one and two will want something fresh to keep supporting the series.

But let's leave Space Marshals 3 for when that comes out. If you played the original and loved it, Space Marshals 2 is a better version of that. If you were on the fence in part because of the original game's stealth handling, the new stealth kills might help you out. If you didn't care for the original, or the concept doesn't appeal to you at all, then stay the course. Otherwise, this is a solid way to spend a few hours, even if there's a bit of deja vu.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarStar
  • rhinofinger

    Such a great game! Can't get enough.

  • speedyph

    Great job pixel bite for giving us this gem 🕵🏾🕵🏾🕵🏾🕵🏾😍😍😍😍😍 and awesome review carter !🤖🤖🤖🤖😎

  • sherlockeb

    Great review Carter

  • Kav Euge

    It is a typical curse of the sequels - it would be judged for being too similar to the original or too different. In this case I am actually grateful to the devs for keeping the core of the game essentially the same while adding the new elements. The silent kill is such an awesome mechanic, it is worth playing the game for that alone. I was immediately reminded of Commandos series. Fans of the original were screaming for a sequel because they wanted more of the same and that's exactly what was delivered.
    The review is quite fair though and I agree that the 3rd installment should be different enough (even if in the same universe) to keep the series fresh.

  • Zendorphin

    I really need to get the first one played. How long does it take?

    • OrangutanKungfu

      That is very much up to you! If you're a completionist who can't move on to the next stage without getting all the loot and five stars on each level, it might take you quite a long time.

      • bpcookson

        And if not a completionist?

      • Kloke

        I am not sure as I am on completionist but while not short. I would be a solid play through and decently quick.

  • Herman van Boeijen

    I'd have added that the graphics and Ui are also of a rare AAA quality. These people know their graphics and effects.

  • Doc Robby

    Really well written review Carter. Thumbs up! 👍🏼

  • stubbieausi

    $5.99USD currently converts to $7.86AUD yet this game costs Aussies $9.99AUD!
    When Apple finally decides to stop ripping off us Aussies I will start buying iOS games again. 😠

  • Abz Productions

    Seriously, $5.99!!, wtf thats too expensive. no way am i paying that much for a mobile crappy game. i rather get a pc or console game for cheaper. id rather this game be free to play, with iaps, then this. facepalm /s

    • Teleamon

      Drink bleach

      • Abz Productions

        guys this was sarcasm, hence the "/s" at the end. Im just imitating those people who buy iaps and then complain on Premium titles:)

      • David desJardins

        What we definitely need is not just more annoying posts but also more people imitating the annoying posts. Because we can never get enough of that. That's really what I come to the comments for.

    • rhinofinger

      Get a job

  • JhongJil

    You can pass through 4 armored guards by using poison weapons. That's the thing in the first game.

  • App Junkie

    Really enjoyed playing this game, an the Devs have done a really good job building on the great foundations laid in the first game! You can check out my thoughts on it over on my page!

    App Junkie

Space Marshals 2 Reviewed by Carter Dotson on . Rating: 4.5