When you think of a platforming game, the first thing that comes to mind is Mario. He set the standard for the game that everyone knows today as a platformer. From the original Super Mario Bros. up through Mario 64, Mario has been around for a long time.
Tons of games have been made trying to gain some of the recognition and glory that Mario and his friends have. One such series is Croc. The latest installment, Croc 2, follows up on the original. While a valiant attempt, Croc 2 falls short in way too many areas to become success in the highly-competitive genre that it is a part of.
Croc 2 is mainly a child's game. From the simplistic storyline (help Croc save his island) to the graphics, this game is marketed towards children. Now, this is not necessarily a problem per se, however, Croc 2 does not succeed in what it has set out to do.
The control of Croc 2 is it's downfall. Moving around without a gamepad requires way too much patience. The controls are extremely loose, and Croc's response time is very high. It is difficult to complete even the (seemingly) simplest of tasks. Croc seems to have a mind of his own most of the time, as getting him to go into small areas in particular is a pain. Using a game pad helps a little bit, as you get more of a "real" video game feel to it that way. For those gamers without a pad, control is not something to be thought highly of.
Croc 2's graphics are overly simplistic. They are pretty and cartoonish, but they have a Spyro the Dragon feel to them. They are just to basic for anyone over the age of about ten. The problem with this is that, considering the fact that Croc 2 needs a 350 MHz processor to run at optimal speed on, only those children with parents who buy top of the line products will be able to play. For everyone else, Croc 2 will either run slowly or not at all.
The game play of Croc 2 is also very simple. Much like Mario, Croc can do various things. He can jump on his enemies heads, attack them or throw things at them. While playing the game, Croc must discover diamond gems. This is Fox Interactive's version of the golden coins that were made famous by Mario. Gems can be found in the item boxes that Croc can jump on. However, it usually takes about four tries before you can actually open up the boxes....oh well.
If you are a huge Croc fan thanks to the original game, give this one a go. However, if you are not a fanatic, stay away.
Graphics: Nice but too simplistic.
Sound: Good ambient noise, average sound effects
Enjoyment: Controls are not very good at all...takes away a lot from the game.
Replay Value: Getting through it the first time is really all you are looking to do. After that, there is not much left.
There's a certain sea-sickness that comes at the end of successful systems, when you've played so many and so much of a genre that they begin to wash together into one ocean of racing, fighting, platforming, or whatever you played the hell out of on your system of choice. The nice thing, so far at least, about video games is that they're like music -- just when you think that everything is getting stale, that there's nowhere to go but down, a new system is released, and another Miyamoto or NeverSoft pops up and makes you remember exactly why you waste so much of your life on this stuff in the first place. I say this because although this is a PC game, it's a PC game version of PSX game, and it really shows. Unlike Rayman 2, which seem to transcend the platforms that it was based on, this game is completely shackled by it -- and more than that, though it's at times a fun platform romp, it reflects the end of a system that's pumped out a myriad of 3D platformers, in a variety of shapes and sizes. Though Croc 2 tries to throw in some innovations, it can't do anything but be an example of a platformer following all the rules and being nothing more than an A student at the head of the class: successful, but no one you'd ever want to talk to in the halls.
The designers have hit every mark in this game with an assured confidence that can only come with being a sequel, and more importantly, being a sequel on a dominant system. Croc's world is simple, colorful, round, bubbly and full of the cuteness level demanded of platformer fans. The eyes are precisely wide and large enough to melt the hearts of the coldest politicians, and the moves are nearly identical to Mario, ensuring that any kid worrying about not having to collect gems or pound character X's buttocks into some box-like object will be duly satisfied. You can see chunks of a lot of different platformers being blended together in the hopes of creating a sort of pretty Frankenstein effect. There's the overworld scenario, similar to Mario 64 but with the focus of Crash Bandicoot, and the collection insanity of both games. There are mini-games galore, similar to Donkey Kong 64, with Croc taking to hang gliders, rolling snowballs, and racing boats and cars in order to win medals. The characters even talk similarly to the characters in Banjo Kazooie, squeaked, argghing and hee haw-ing lines in gibberish that is either delightful or horrifying depending on who you ask and how long they've been playing.
All of these elements are done well, and supplemented with a soundtrack that's full-bodied and fun, mimicking the moods of a keystone cop movie for a train scene, or getting more serene and moody for a hang gliding level. Croc pitches in by providing a series of wah-hehs, ya-zoos, and ker-splats that have been proven to produce giggles in at least 9 out of 10 lab rats -- I was one of them. While Tal and Dan shuddered at the squeaky Gobbos, I was sucked in, and resorted to headphones to hold on to some sort of indy cred while trying to get a crocodile to slap his tail against what looked like a walking muppet.
Croc jumps through a series of worlds, from the Aztec deserts to beautiful beachside jungles and Cossack hinterlands. Though they're pretty uniform in terms of actual gameplay, they all have a very clean and polished look. In terms of gameplay, you can tell that the designers definitely worked towards giving each level a unique feel or goal, such as trying to free Gobbos in order to enlist their help in getting an ice block across an elaborate path. On a typical outing Croc must carry bombs, ride mine carts, and fight a variety of bosses in order to succeed, and although it seems like a wide variety of actions, the sheer similarity to so many other games of this type keeps it from shining. To many times a good idea is tedious or repetitious in execution, and when coupled with the health policy, it meant that a lot of those ideas were ground down even further by having to repeat many times.
Croc's health bar is built up of a series of hearts that work like health points, but carry through an entire level, which means that jumping across a lava field and then getting smacked by a monster can already cost you nearly half of your health for an entire level. Couple this with an awkward control scheme, and you have instant frustration. The game originally worked on an analog controller for the PSX, but as PC heads know, analog is a rarity for gamepads on a desktop. Even with a SideWinder Croc will sometimes leap forward when you're just trying to get him to turn, or twist himself around when you want him to go in a simple direction. And what's worse, because you spend so much time in the game making precision jumps, you'll find yourself jumping way too far because the leaping camera and the control setup can send you much farther than you ever wanted to go on a near-constant basis. It's confusing to watch, and at times more confusing to play. You can change the options to a more Tomb Raider-esque turn and walk aesthetic, but that can be deadly when faced with enemies.
To enjoy Croc 2 as it's meant to be enjoyed, you pretty much have to have never played a platform game before, and certainly have never touched anything crafted by Miyamoto or the Rare kids on a good day. Kids will jump for the cuteness, the great music, and the funky voices, but they'll definitely be frustrated by the controls, and adults will ultimately be bored by the general straightforward hop and attack nature of the gameplay. The game has a good share of really fun moments, but overall its appeal is directly related to your experience with the genre. It's not a bad game by any means, but as a platformer, and what's more, as a platformer on a PC, it just doesn't shine.
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