Another change sees the introduction of Biovision, essentially a hint system which applies a green filter to the screen, pausing the action to highlight key items in red, and bringing up a brief description when you hover over them. Some tips are useful, but many are either blindingly obvious or outright spoilers. A cryptic clue as to how to defeat a boss is sometimes welcome; actually talking you through the strategy required is rarely a good idea.
The co-op mode is a half-hearted box-ticker of an inclusion, allowing a second player to jump in but rarely making them feel particularly useful. It forces both players to remain at close proximity: climb too high, or drop out of the picture completely and you've got five seconds to return before a life is lost, without being able to see how to get back. As players no longer have infinite lives and have to share a limited stock, those less skilled in the way of the claw will doubtless have to suffer the slings and arrows of withering looks and muttered profanities from their partners. The decision not to support online play is probably a sensible one.
It's not all bad news. Weapon upgrades and new abilities are tucked away on each level, and hunting them down is worth the hassle for the additional options they afford you in combat situations. Some even unlock alternative routes through levels, and it's often worth returning to earlier stages with new abilities to see if you can uncover anything new.
A limited-ammo bazooka is handy against tough enemies, but it can also blast through weakened rock to reveal a secret area, while hacking into relay stations allows Spencer to disable any robotic foes in the vicinity. Here, at last, Fatshark builds sensibly on the foundations laid down by its predecessor. It's just a shame we don't see that kind of invention elsewhere.
The challenge rooms also make a welcome return, though anyone with misgivings about the new control set-up may well find them more frustrating than those in Rearmed. And while the Diesel engine has seen some technical improvements, artistically Rearmed 2 seems a step backwards, with the previous game's gaudy colours muted slightly. Thankfully, composer Simon Viklund is on superb form, his retro-tinged soundtrack flavoured with a hint of dubstep.
Not everyone will be disappointed with the changes here. Some may appreciate the new swing controls, while those who struggled with the last game's old-school thinking will perhaps prefer a sequel that makes more concessions to a modern audience. But by mostly adhering to tradition, its exploration is more laborious than it should be, while the modernist touches – like the wealth of well-hidden collectibles and the more complex level design – exacerbate that very issue.
The result is that Rearmed 2 falls awkwardly between two stools; neither retro enough for the purists, nor accessible enough by contemporary standards, it's a disappointing backwards step from its flawed but fascinating forebear.
6 / 10