Review: Beat Hazard 2

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: NR - Not Rated
My Rating: Ages 10 and up
Genre: Bullet Hell / Rhythm
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2019
Reviewed Version: v1.211
Review Published On: May 6th, 2020
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Humble Store, Steam

Save System:

Your progress is automatically saved at the end of your game (regardless of outcome). Pausing the game is unwise, as it'll throw off your rhythm, but you can still do it by pressing ESC.

Summary of
Major Issues:

The main problem lies with the two Challenge modes, as they have been known to select songs with explicit or mature lyrics.

Screenshots

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Facing a boss

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...and another

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Buying a new ship



Game Overview

Ten years ago, the original Beat Hazard introduced us to the concept of fighting massive interstellar battles to the rhythm of our favorite songs. It was an outstanding game, and with the features that came with the Beat Hazard Ultra DLC, it didn't seem like there was any way to make it better. However, the people behind it managed to think up a number of new ideas, and Beat Hazard 2 has proven to be a bigger and better game than we could've hoped for. The basic idea is the same: you pick the songs, and the game creates a unique experience for you to blast through. Every so often, large boss ships will appear to test your abilities, and keep the trippy light show going. But there's more going on in this sequel than just that. To begin with, bosses aren't created from a standard template anymore. Their size, colors, and weapon loadout is entirely based on the music being played when they are spawned. They also come into two distinct flavors: your typical giant gunship, and a dangerous serpentine configuration. Thankfully, the annoying starfish boss seen in Beat Hazard Ultra was left behind, as it's nowhere to be seen in this title. Another new trick is the addition of a new music source. Instead of using music you already have on your computer, you can now use the "Open Mic" source option to play using music from streaming services. This works by having the game listen to whatever sounds other Apps are playing, so any streaming service should work. This feature also powers Beat Hazard 2's new Daily Challenge and Lightning Challenge modes. In these modes, you play through a provided song in an attempt to earn a place on the Challenge's high score charts. If you manage to do it, you'll be rewarded will a special "Elite" ship for your fleet. Beat Hazard 2's new features and extensive redesigns have blown the original completely out of the water. If you liked the first game, you'll definitely want to get this sequel and, as the tagline says, embrace the seizures.

Points of Interest

Build a fleet of unique ships
At the end of each level, you're presented with the option of adding a new ship to your fleet. These ships were procedurally generated by the song you just finished playing, so you never really know what you'll find until you finish the level. Helpfully, every ship is "built" by a specific fictional manufacturer. Each manufacturer has their own style and design goals, making it easy to tell if you'll like how a given ship handles. For example, ships by Mosquito Systems are fast but weak, Brutal Inc makes flying tanks that dominate the battlefield, and Cra$y Thief ships are more interested in earning loot than anyone else.
Every ship comes with a challenge
Remember the Shadow Mission system in the original game? It's back again, but with some improvements. Each playable ship has four Shadow Missions for you to complete. These can range from playing a song with given difficulty settings to scoring a given number of points during a specific game mode. Complete any two Shadow Missions using a ship and you'll be rewarded with a special unique "module". These modules can be used by any ship, and their purpose is to tweak the ship's behavior. To be more specific, they typically trade one stat for another, so which modules are the best for a ship is entirely a matter of opinion. For example, if a ship is too fast and has little firepower, a module that increases bullet damage at the cost of speed would probably help a lot!
Daily and Lightning Challenges
During these challenges, you're typically limited to specific ships, difficulties, and secondary weapons. From there, the game will switch to the "Open Mic" source mode and open your web browser to play the predetermined song on Spotify. From there it's up to you to score as high as you can. Lightning Challenges last four hours, while Daily challenges last 24. The prizes are basically the same -- a powerful unique ship that you won't be able to find otherwise.
New weapons and upgrades
The perks system is back, with some new additions. In particular, there's a handful of new secondary weapons for you to play with, including things like drone satellites, mirror ships, and a powerful EMP burst gun. The best part here is that the developers only added options, so fans of the classic secondary weapons like the Ultra Beam or Micro Missiles can still use them to their heart's content.
Steam community features
In addition to a new set of Steam trading cards, there are a total of 62 achievements to collect as you play. These range from awards for collecting certain types of ships, playing a lot of songs, or reaching a high rank during a Daily/Lightning Challenge. The toughest achievement to earn in this game will undoubtedly be the "Challenge Winner" achievement, as you need to win first place in a Challenge.

Additionally, Beat Hazard 2 features support for the Steam Workshop, allowing you to create and share custom ships with the community.
Automatic song detection can be iffy
The Open Mic source mode uses an online automatic detection service to identify the music you're listening to. This usually works, but it can be frustrating when it doesn't. The Challenge modes suffer from this problem the most, as a detection failure means that your score is invalid and cannot be entered into the contest. I found it sometimes helps to use your volume mixer to mute Beat Hazard 2 itself, as the sound effects can sometimes interfere with the detection feature.

Concerns and Issues

Very mild violence
You're playing a game where star ships blow each other up in huge battles, so yeah, there's some violence. But it's about as serious as the violence seen in early arcade games like Galaga or Space Invaders, so while it is present, it's not really worth worrying about.
Mild swearing
When you start a game, the loading screen briefly displays a random message. One of these messages is "Kick some Ass!", which might offend the more strict parents.
Mature lyrics
Unfortunately, the tracks selected for the Daily Challenges and Lightning Challenges are occasionally from albums that feature explicit content, such as swearing, sexual lyrics, and even racial slurs. The game does explicitly say what the song will be and who the artist is, so you can avoid these songs if you're careful, but if you're not familiar with the artist, you might be in for a rude surprise mid-game.