Endless Ocean 2: Adventures of the Deep Review
Are you ready to dive back into Nintendo's diving sim?
Not many games can say they offer peaceful tranquillity over ‘adrenaline-pumping shoot outs’ which is why you probably haven’t played Endless Ocean.
Casually swimming around the ocean floor, learning about the creatures that inhabit the underwater realm and exploring sunken ruins might sound like the epitome of Nintendo’s casual uprising but those who dove a little deeper into the game’s immersive atmosphere found a rather relaxing yet strangely compelling experience. This was the secret to the game’s success and also its greatest weakness: delving deeper, although relaxing and compelling, didn’t reveal any new and riveting challenges. The lack of a ‘real game’ made the entire experience shallow with a real lack of progression or reward.
Akira has chosen to address some of these issues for the sequel ‘Adventures of the Deep’ but can they keep this outing afloat?
It might not look like Endless Ocean 2 has changed much but a few minutes into the single player campaign and you’ll notice a complete overhaul in the game’s structure. You’re first clue should be that the game has a campaign and yes, a story is included!
After taking up a position with R&R Diving service, you quickly become wrapped up in the search for the “Song of Dragons”, an adventure that takes you all around the world exploring new oceans and meeting new friends along the way. It’s not the most interesting story, and its characters (including the young Oceane Rouvier and the irritating GG) don’t stand out, but the fact a story is present is comforting.
The best part about this is that it’s not intrusive. If you want to explore the game at your own pace then you can do so. The story rarely throws immediate challenges at you and when the story gets tedious there are plenty of side quests and part time jobs such as playing photographer or tour guide.
The majority of your tasks are largely unchanged when compared to the original title although the story does introduce some new elements. You’re no longer free to roam the sea without fear; you will encounter angered sharks that will need either ‘healing’ with your pulsar gun or dodging in QTE like confrontations. Your dolphin can now dive into the depths with you and you can ride him to get from point A to point B a lot faster.
The online gameplay has also been improved thanks to the addition of Wii Speak. We weren’t able to test it out ourselves, but voice chat was sorely missed in the original so it’s a god send that it made its way into Adventures of the Deep. The drop-in drop-out system also works well. If you want a friend to join, simply open the gate and close it when you don’t. That said, there isn’t really anything about the multiplayer that will make it a regular pastime; you’ll simply potter around exploring the sea.
For all the pros and cons of the game, the ocean is the centre piece of Endless Ocean 2 and the variety of scenery is exceptional. As you journey through the game you will travel through different seas and maybe even as far as the North Pole. It is exactly this kind of pacing and diversity that will compel you to pick up Endless Ocean 2 again and again.
What hasn’t changed then? Well, the visuals remain largely similar to the original and still scream out for the kind of technology the Wii isn’t capable of. It also says a lot about the game’s heavy focus on diving when the majority of your time spent on land looks and controls like a fish out of water. Even the music hasn’t changed much and is still relient on sparse ambient tones with a whiny voice over the top. Thankfully, this can all be remedied with a SD card packed with your favourite tracks to get you through.
The controls remain mostly the same and are fairly simply to pick up but the cursor is a bit too sensitive and a slight twitch of the remote will often send it zooming from one side of the screen to another. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any way to turn down the controller sensitivity.
The best thing about this sequel is its ample serving of endless tasks and collectables that will feed the eager completionist’s desire to spend countless hours finishing every side quest, finding every treasure and filling their own personal aquarium.
Developer Akira has been lucky that a game like Endless Ocean garnered enough attention to warrant a sequel. To Akira’s merit, almost every change and addition benefits the game; masterful lines have been drawn to ensure that the relaxing gameplay is still a compelling feature despite the addition of a clear goal and reward structure. Despite the changes, those who disliked the original will struggle to find merit in this latest adventure. Gamers who enjoyed the original will enjoy the subtleties of this significantly improved experience.
Endless Ocean 2 is more bang for your buck. The core elements haven't changed much and some polish seems to have gone a-miss in certain spots but like other casual first party Wii titles, it's easy to pick up and even easier to enjoy.
A visually solid game with some breathtaking set pieces and great venues to explore. Some areas are bland and the on land scenes aren't anything to write home about.
You'll either love of hate the ambient sounds of the ocean. If the music isn't to your taste you can replace it with your own tunes but the soundtrack could have been a little more varied.
Endless Ocean 2 is a game that has evolved considerably over its original. A full campaign, plenty of side quests and an improved online mode, there is nothing that Akira hasn't taken the time to consider and improve on.
It might not win over the naysayers but fans of the original won't be dissapointed.