Ionball 2: Ionstorm (PC) Review
Breakout is a well ingrained game inside the mind of most gamers. It has been remade, remastered, retooled, and ripped off dozens of times. The trick, as with everything, is of course how skillfully each iteration is done and what new it can bring to the table as opposed to any of the other games that have been out for decades. Ionball 2: Ionstorm does manage to do this to various degrees, some very successfully while others manage to drop flat almost as soon as that game is started.
Right off the bat the biggest issue is the only control scheme available is mouse only, which is kind of like telling a surgeon that they can only operate using their teeth—I am sure it can be done and done skillfully, but that is not the normal or ideal way to approach these things when there are other options out there. Problems start to crop up when the paddle jumps across the stage as the ball is launching, because it is only common to become a little irate when dying in a game and at the very least violently twitch in effort not to break things only to have the projectile fly in entirely the unintended direction for no reason other than everything being tied to one input device. It seems odd that even the keyboard itself was overlooked, let alone controller support in this day and age.
When the game works it does so brilliantly. Every enemy piece that is destroyed grants the player experience, all of which must be caught by the paddle at the bottom or missed out on forever. This creates the best back and forth of the game when not letting the ball drop, mixed with trying to gather experience points to spend on new powers, as well as avoid enemy fire all mix into one fantastic moment. In these instances the game becomes something wonderful, which is of course until either the controls get in the way of things or the uneven difficulty spike suddenly stop any forward momentum that had been built until that point.
Ionball 2 does enough things right throughout its tenure that it can be a rather pleasant experience if only it went a little further and just added things that seem so clearly lacking. Between the game expecting the player to suddenly gain an unprecedented amount of skill in a short time to proceed, and the controls not being as tight as they should be, the game starts to come apart under the weight of much of what it is trying to do. If this sequel had been given a little more time in the oven to cook it might have been something that would been an easy recommend for any person looking to waste away the time on a computer but instead it quickly becomes a source of frustration for all but the most skilled or dedicated.