The original Anshar Wars has been a highlight of the Gear VR Innovator Edition’s videogame catalogue for some time, despite the experience being decidedly limited. Now, with the head-mounted display (HMD) available at consumer retail, OZWE have given us another chance to fight with the Ansharian empire, and in Anshar Wars 2 they have delivered a comprehensive package more attuned to the demands of a modern gaming audience.
Anshar Wars 2 is a sizeable download, weighing in at 555.69 MB – more than twice the size of the original title – and the reasons for this become apparent once beginning the videogame. Anshar Wars 2 is immeasurably more polished and deep than the original title, from the variety of ship designs to the character artwork, voice acting and campaign structure. With Anshar Wars 2, the series has become more than a one-trick pony.
The opening mission of the campaign features a tutorial – something which was lacking in the original release – and though it still has you defending a mothership, this is no longer the only objective in a high-score based videogame. Anshar Wars 2 gives you additional mission completion requirements (as well as optional objectives) and will end the session once these have been met, resulting in a vastly more rewarding progression system whilst retaining the high-score objective for those who wish to do so. In fact, a deeper scoring system is available which now includes ranking rewards, hidden items and more.
The fact that Anshar Wars 2 actually features a campaign is a step ahead of its predecessor, but the series of increasingly difficult levels is actually very well implemented in its own right. There variety of challenges is a constant draw to see what will be coming next and the variety of weaponry given to the player means that the experience is rarely dull. The largest complaint that could be levelled at Anshar Wars 2‘s campaign is that it’s simply not long enough.
The craft handling in Anshar Wars 2 is similar to the original, though the turning arc feels much tighter. Furthermore, the player can now perform barrel rolls with a quick tilt of the head; these seem to have little practical implications, but do show off the spectacle of OZWE’s achievement on the mobile platform. Anshar Wars 2 can also be played with either the built-in touchpad or a bluetooth control pad, though it would be hard to recommend anyone try the former if the latter is available
While Anshar Wars attempted to include a multiplayer mode – a decidedly hit-and-miss affair in the early life of the Gear VR – Anshar Wars 2 does away with this entirely. Concentrating on single-player gameplay at this point in the lifecycle of its host format is not necessarily a bad thing, though there is likely to be some fans of the original that will lament the missing opportunity for competitive gameplay.
Anshar Wars 2 ups the ante significantly in the visual and aural stakes. The graphical quality of the videogame is easily one of the best on the Gear VR at present, with more detail on everything from the ships to the asteroids to the backdrops. Character art, varied weaponry effects and locales make for a far more interesting experience that the original title. A comprehensive voice track is impressive, too; multiple characters provide dialogue telling the heavy science-fiction story at a level of quality that resembles even AAA videogame productions.
A solid and enjoyable space combat experience, Anshar Wars 2 is the kind of videogame that Gear VR needs to cement itself as a true gaming platform. It’s a significant step ahead of the original release and a credit to the idea of putting development hardware out far ahead of a consumer release: Anshar Wars allowed OZWE to experiment and create Anshar Wars 2; a videogame that will appeal to gamers that adopted the Gear VR hardware for more than just the chance to jump on the bandwagon of a new medium.