Reviews December 27, 2011

Trine 2

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Reviewed by: Kenneth Seward Jr.
System: Xbox 360 (Also on PS3, PC)
Genre: Platforming/Adventure
Rated: E
Players: 1-3 (2-3 online)
Cost: 1200 MSP ($14.99)
Release Date: 12/07/2011
Publisher: ATLUS
Developer: Frozenbyte

Being a video game journalist can be hard at times. We have to be critical, while trying our best not to be too biased when it comes to reviewing titles. Studying a game intently can easily damage its entertainment value, just like being able to see the monster’s zipper can ruin a favorite classic horror movie when it’s brought into HD. You want to be fair and at the same time, acknowledge everything the developer has done to bring their work to life. This brings me to Frozenbyte’s newest title, Trine 2. If you were to dissect this game, you may find that it is lacking in content. However, by looking at their title as a whole, it can be argued that Frozenbyte has developed one of the best games of 2011!

Trine 2 is the sequel to the critically acclaimed title that was released back in 2009. Just like before the story revolves around the Trine, a magical living artifact, and the three unlikely heroes, Amadeus, Zoya, and Pontius. It begins with the heros’ kingdom being consumed by mysterious plants; crops are dieing due to large, thorny vines and man eating flowers are attacking anyone who gets too close. Upon seeking answers the trio stumbles onto the Trine again. Like before, the Trine has assembled the three to bring peace back to their troubled land. As the adventurers set out on their journey, a mysterious figure takes interest in them and watches from afar.

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Trine 2 is very much a fairytale. Going from its mysterious story to its amazing graphics; everything about this game screams bed time story fun. Speaking of visuals, this game is down right stunning. Normally, I would talk about the gameplay first. I have to make an exception with this title. Using a large range of color palettes, Frozenbyte did a great job of creating a colorful and vibrant world for gamers to play in. The environments are filled with rich details; you’ll want to take notice of the waterfalls or distant ice caves that permeate the background scenery. And that’s just the background, the stuff in the foreground is even better. You’d have to be blind if you didn’t notice the way fabrics sway in the wind, the texture of the wood and how it differs from metal and stone, or the glow of fire and how its light shines realistically on different surfaces. To say that Trine 2 is a visual treat would be the understatement of the year (in the video game world at least).

Moving on to gameplay, Trine 2 plays a lot like its predecessor. You will control each character and use their abilities to solve puzzles and ward off dangers. Each character is upgradeable and has their own skill trees to explore. Amadeus, the wizard, can move objects using magic and summon steampunkesque boxes and planks to help players get around obstacles. The thief Zoya can attack enemies with her bow and arrows. She can also grapple onto any wood surface in the environment she is standing under. Pontius, the knight, can fight off enemies with his sword and block flying projectiles with his shield. He can also destroy breakable walls with his large hammer. All three characters will need to be utilized in order to make it through Trine’s many puzzles. Remember that game Lost Vikings? It had a similar gameplay mechanic. You are only in control of one character at a time, switching between them as needed. What’s cool is that you are free to decide how you want to tackle each situation. While there are some puzzles that have one solution (like using Amadeus to reconnect broken pipes), most allow you to come up with your own solution. Need to get across a pit full of razor sharp spikes? You can use Zoya to grapple onto a wooden platform and swing across on her rope. Or you could have Amadeus place a summoned plank on the edge of the pit. This will extend the available ground to walk on, allowing him to easily jump over the smaller gap that was created with the plank and the other edge of the pit. After upgrading your characters, you’re given even more options. Upgrading Zoya’s bow will allow gamers to freeze enemies in place with an ice arrow or set fire to explosive barrels with her flaming arrows. Still having trouble getting over that pit? Put a skill point in Pontius’s shield charge and he’ll be able to run and jump farther distances.

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Of course, the longer you play the more difficult things become. You’ll have to think more about how the world works in order to make it through the later levels. Trine 2 has a cool physics engine not unlike the one found in Little Big Planet. Objects have weight to them and move as they would in real life. Placing a block at one end of a suspended platform will cause the other end to be lifted up (think of a seesaw), allowing you to use the raised side to reach a higher point in the level. Sometimes the game will add in natural elements like fire, wind, and water, which all behave differently. The puzzles presented in the last few levels can be quite hard, especially if you have not been paying close enough attention to the way objects interact with one another. You will also need to keep in mind that each character has their own life bar. If you are attacked by goblins and Pontius is heavily injured during the fight, you may want to use the other characters for a while in order to keep him alive. If a character dies you won’t be able to get them back until you reach a check point (a glowing orb that restores your character’s health). This isn’t too bad as the check points are well placed and on the normal difficulty setting, you can resurrect fallen comrades a much as you want. It may be difficult to take down a boss when you’re missing a more offensive character though and if all three heroes die before you reach a check point then you will have to start back at the previous save point.

All of the mechanics I’ve talked about so far, when combined together, result in an extremely satisfying game. I do admit, however, that at first glance this title seems to be lacking in content. You won’t find a large number of enemy types, even with co-op included there is only one mode of play, and there aren’t multiple ending to help boost replayability. On top of that, Trine 2 isn’t the best game when it comes to platformers. The fighting can be shallow at times, a far cry from modern hack and slash games. And the puzzles aren’t of the mind-twisting variety we’re used to when it comes to the puzzle game genre. What makes Trine 2 stand out is the way all of these things come together to make up the gameplay. The fights might be shallow but they are implemented well, effectively adding a little tension to the slower paced moments. The platforming segments lend themselves well to creative puzzles. Jumping over obstacles in your path may only be half the solution; you might also have to manipulate said objects with your characters weight so that they interact with the environment in order to progress through the level. Due to the fact that majority of the secrets you find aren’t arbitrary, exploring the environments is fun. Finding hidden orbs will help you level up your characters faster and unlocking chests will grant you hints as to what is going on in the world. The more difficult puzzles do require you to think and yet won’t cause you to enter into a fit of rage due to their complexity. On top of all of these things, Trine 2 allows for online and local drop in/out co-op gameplay. Awesome!  

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Normally, after playing a game, I always think about what could have been added to make it better. Not in this case. Of course, I wouldn’t complain if there were more content available (ie. more levels, enemies and boss encounters, weapons, secrets, ect). A Trine 3 is sure to be on its way, with added features and whatnot. I just think that gamers have been given a complete package here. And I haven’t even talked about the soundtrack and voice acting (both were done well). Trine 2 should be experience by everyone. As it stands, it’s the last great game to come out in 2011!  

Gameplay: 10
Not perfect, but close!

Graphics: 10
Downright Amazing!

Sound: 10
Everything sounds great. Music fits the world well, and the voice acting and narration is really good.

What’s New: 9
A successful blend of old, creating something new.

Replay Value: 9
It’s really fun to play. Even without the secrets and multiplayer options, I still wanted to keep playing after completion. Will it keep you playing for years to come?  Not sure. Will you want to dust it off every once in a while like the classic title it is? Defiantly!

Final Score:

9.6