Mobile Light Force 2
Ultimately just another manic shooter.
I could end the review there, but I’m expected to say more. And I will; just realize that you’ve already read the most significant truth about this game already.
When I stumbled across this fairly old PS2 game, the cover struck me, made an instant impression on me. The impression was not good. There are three females, clad scantily in black pleather, guns blazing. The characters are hand drawn, and not particularly well at that. The cover made me laugh, and pick up the game to inspect the back. I’m sure that my reaction was not what was intended by the game publishers XS, but the effect was all they could hope for in my specific case. I’m a fan of this near dead genre of 2D shoot-em-up, and were it not for the cornball Charlie’s Angels cover of MLF2, I might have missed out on rare PS2 shooting action.
Having played the game, I know now that I could have done very well without experiencing MLF2, thank you very much. Aside from its corny cover, and the fact that the Mobile Light Force acronym can be sounded out as “milf”; there’s very little special about this game. It’s a port of the arguably unspecial Shikigami, from Alpha System. (Not to be confused with the first MLF–on the PlayStation–which is a port of Gunbird, from Psikyo. Don’t ask me…)
If these names don’t ring a bell, you should probably abandon this review now. The few of you who remain know that Shikigami is a vertical blastathon in the vein of Do Don Pachi, ESP Rade, Guwange, and any number of other similar bullet proliferators. As with those games, you’ve got a handful of characters to choose from, all equipped with a rather standard issue upgradeable weapon spread.
The cool part comes in where the cast’s secondary weapons, called spirit forces, are concerned. These attacks siphon the power up coins perished foes leave behind at the cost of your onscreen player’s speed being cut in half. One character has a homing wolf attack; two others put to use a localized burst, as if from a satellite high above, raining down on the reticle which the player controls. And so on. Aside from weapons one and two, the small cast also employ the usual screen clearing bomb attack.
MLF2 isn’t a very fast shooter, from both an enemy and bullet standpoint. But there are enough bullets, and various other laser attacks to keep you constantly moving to navigate through what often becomes a projectile labyrinth. The concept of tension adds extra spice and challenge for hardcore fans, who will otherwise find the vanilla shooting too pedestrian for their liking. Tension works by rewarding players with coin and point multipliers when they slip bullets at the closest possible proximity. The game rewards you for flying quite purposely and purposefully in the face of death.
So while shooter veterans will be looking to exploit the tension function to enhance their experience (MLF2 is not a difficult shooter by manic shmup standards), those not schooled in the ways of Don Pachi and its offspring would do well to keep away. Getting caught up in a net of brightly coloured bullets before being ripped to shreds will no doubt be demoralizing for the uninitiated.
Tragically, in the end Mobile Light Force 2 will fail absolutely everyone. The average action gamer willing to give it a shot will grow tired of the repetition and constant deaths in short order. Hardcore manic shmup fans will balk–they’ll consider this mission far too unexceptional in all respects to be worth more than a rental’s worth of gameplay. They’ll blow through it, finding nothing of note: no incredible challenge, no adrenaline pumping clashes, no soul charging tunes, no especially memorable enemies.
Even Shikigami fans in particular will be displeased, because MLF2 isn’t the flawless port that it easily could have been, featuring horrible dubs: Like school in summertime – no class (An enemy really pulls that unfunny Fat Albert insult out of his ass, I kid you not.) Viewed in the most auspicious of lights through the rosiest lenses, MLF2 is just more of the same, and that’s not enough to give your hand cause to make that trip to your pocket.