App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Pixelbite has been a truly excellent mobile developer for years now, and I'm glad to see they're still around and releasing a third installment in their great stealth/action Space Marshals series. Space Marshals 3 picks up essentially where the previous games left off, and it's a great game to dive into regardless of whether you're a long-time fan or new to the series entirely.
Cowboys in space
For those unfamiliar, the Space Marshals games are top-down shooters that place a heavy emphasis on stealth tactics. They take place is a goofy and colorful universe that blends sci-fi and western elements in a flippant, cartoonish way that is charmingly cliche. In them, you play as Burton, a cowboy who somehow always finds himself at the center of some intergalactic malfeasance that only he can stop.
As a one-man army, you have to rely on the element of surprise to make it through levels crawling with enemies of a variety of shapes and sizes, all while gathering collectibles and completing objectives like freeing prisoners, escaping ambushes, and assassinating high value targets.
Gear up and giddyup
The secret sauce that makes Space Marshals 3 work so well (and all Pixelbite releases, for that matter) is its level design and sleek technical proficiency. Levels in Space Marshals are sprawling playgrounds of tactical cover, resupply points, buildings, and baddies that are on varying levels of alert. Each of these environments is also constructed with replayability in mind, providing multiple paths that support different play styles and combat options. To encourage you to take advantage of this variety, a core aspect of Space Marshals 3 is its loot system, which allows you to unlock and equip Burton with a custom loadout of items for each mission.
All of this stealth action is beautifully rendered in a colorful style that runs at a silky smooth 60 frames per second. It's also worth nothing that if you're a fan of mobile games with controller support, Pixelbite has you covered. As is the case with almost all of their titles, Space Marshals 3 has some of the best-feeling controller support on the App Store.
To be continued
Unlike the previous two titles in the series, Space Marshals 3 is a free-to-start game that lets you play the tutorial and the game's first mission before asking for $ 3.99 for 10 additional levels that make up the game's first chapter. This is why I say Space Marshals 3 is a great place to start if you haven't tried the games (and don't worry about story or spoilers, the narrative in these games is definitely one of their weakest aspects).
The only thing that bugs me about this strategy is the fact that the free level available in Space Marshals 3 doesn't quite give you a full sense of what the game actually feels like. You'll just have to trust me that the game gets better--and tougher--after paying your way into the first chapter. One way that the free level can be useful though is in letting you know about how much game you're getting. Space Marshals 3's missions all feel like they take about the same amount of time to complete, and you can easily complete a first run of each mission in the game in just a few sittings.
The bottom line
Space Marshals 3 isn't all that different from previous Space Marshals games, but that's fine because all of them are great. If you've been unsure of the series to this point, make sure to check out the free content available in this latest title to figure out if this sleek stealth action game is up your alley or not.