As gratifying as this collective arsenal may be, there's no doubt that Rearmed 2 is at its best when you're swinging through the air on your mechanical arm. While the original grapple controls have been tweaked slightly, it doesn't take long before you're nipping about with acrobatic flair. There's a lot to take in - diagonal, horizontal and vertical arm-thrusts, plus a handful of manoeuvres for covering precise distances - and as with the last game, timing is of the essence if you're attempting anything even vaguely showy. Despite its puny nature, Spencer's newfound ability to jump makes things a lot easier, not least because you can now clamber over waist-high obstacles. Hardcore fans may lament this switch, but upon finishing the story you can unlock a retro mode that reverts Spencer to his former Woody Harrelson-like status. If you complete a level without jumping the game's map screen will acknowledge your efforts, but since it seems like a major hassle to pull off this feat I suspect only purists will bother.
While the comparative drop in difficulty certainly impacts on Rearmed's unique character, there's still something quite rewarding about its focus on skilful aerial gymnastics. There's no doubt that the gameplay can be fiddly at times, and on the larger stages it's occasionally possible to lose your bearings. Rearmed 2 isn't a hard game, but its old-school values may give you a rough ride if you're not ready for them. Personally, I love the fact that the levels are so sizeable, offering multiple paths and collectibles for players who explore every nook and cranny. You'll have to revisit stages several times if you want to find everything, and even then there's the potential for speed runs and the like.
Naturally, you'll only be bothered about attempting this if the game strikes a chord with you, and as I said up top, that'll largely depend on personal preference. There's nothing big or clever here (Well, there are a few big things - the giant robot gorilla bosses spring to mind - but I still wouldn't say they were particularly clever). The 2.5D graphics look nice enough, aside from the odd glitch or slowdown, but the soundtrack is excellent: all the sound effects are suitably blammy, while the background music is laced with a particularly infectious mix of dubstep and electronica. Rearmed 1 composer Simon Viklund is responsible for at least some of these gems, and there are also some slick remixes of his work from the 2008 game.
All the same, it’s hard to escape the feeling that Rearmed 2 can't quite match the quality of its predecessor. The price-tag may have swollen by 50 per cent, but in all other areas it's a slightly less impressive product. The main story mode is lengthy enough, but it repeats itself a little too often, and while it's great that Fatshark has also brought back the teeth-grindingly hard Challenge Rooms, there are only 24 of the buggers. Local co-op is happily anarchic, but there's no support for online play - a serious omission, in this day and age.
That says it all, really. The first Rearmed didn't have much competition, but it still stood out as a quality release; by contrast, this sequel feels overshadowed by the stronger experiences that the LIVE Marketplace and PSN have to offer. Even so, if you're hungry for an old-fashioned platformer, one with a tongue in its cheek and a spring in its step, you could do far worse.