Assault Heroes 2 follows the stereotypical path of the sequel to a tee. The additions read like a veritable checklist of expected upgrades--bigger levels, new vehicles, and different weapons--without implementing any drastic changes that would mess with the tried-and-true game design of the first. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. While people sick of the seemingly endless stream of dual-stick shooters on Xbox Live Arcade still won't find anything here to change their minds, fans of the genre will be happy that developer Wanako Studios improved every aspect of the first game without sacrificing the hardcore appeal. Despite the lack of innovation, this is one of the best shooters on the service, an eminently enjoyable old-school romp.
Shooting dinosaurs is always fun.
Once again, the very real threat of alien forces occupying our beloved planet rears its ugly head, and it's up to you (along with a friend) to finally vanquish these vicious imperialists. The story is summed up in a mere paragraph before the start of the first level, but that's all the motivation you need to start shooting. And you'll be doing a lot of shooting. Puzzles, exploration, and anything else that could conceivably stem the flow of bullets has been thankfully left out, leaving you to focus on using unrelenting force to save Earth.
The game excels despite the presence of any jaw-dropping new features because the core mechanics are almost flawless. Aside from a few levels late in the game, the controls are ultraprecise. It's not only possible to navigate the terrain while shooting your enemies with pinpoint accuracy, it's expected. Whereas so many games in this genre are heralding an unforgiving and oftentimes quite cheap difficulty level, AH2 doesn't resort to any trickery to kill you. The bullets stand out strongly against the background, and your maneuverability is never compromised. If you're hit, it's your fault. Even the on-foot missions--a painful thorn in the original game--have been drastically improved here. You can now roll away from attacks. This completely removes the unfair deaths from the original--where it was nigh impossible to avoid enemy fire--and makes the experience far less frustrating.
The most notable new feature is the inclusion of four unique vehicles. While you'll still control the versatile jeep for the vast majority of the game, you can now hijack other vehicles to mix up the action. Don't expect Grand Theft Auto levels of thievery here--instead of forcibly taking the vehicle of your choosing from the enemy, you are limited to unoccupied vehicles with the keys already in the ignition. Unfortunately, though these vehicles do inject a little diversity in the action, they aren't as useful as the standard jeep. The assault chopper is fast but weak, the light walker can regenerate health but is slower than frozen tar, and the medium tank is extremely powerful...but extremely sluggish as well. And though your jeep has four different mounted guns, the extra vehicles are limited to just the standard minigun (though the tank can also use its turret). They are still fun to command in brief bursts, but it's a welcome treat returning to the lovable jeep.