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Endless Ocean 2 is serenity perfected. But unlike the meandering first game, this Nintendo Wii sequel is a often tense and directed experience.
I have a soft spot for Endless Ocean. It's one of the few games that my other half really got into. I even came home from work one day to find her furtively playing it, much to the kid's delight. But more than that, it's a game like Flower on the PS3, that walks its own path.
Endless Ocean 2 takes the serene underwater elements of the first game, and punctuates them with action, surprise and puzzles. Within the first hour I had literally jumped at the encounter with a Tiger Shark, been awe struck by an underwater city and solves some platform game 'locked-door' type puzzles.
The main story, if you pursue it with intent, soon becomes a well paced experience. In the first Endless Ocean you had to really push at the game to discover what was going on. A clue here, a hint there and eventually you were allowed to piece things together. The sequel though is almost the reverse.
I was back into the almost heavenly experience of spending my time identify fish, collecting coins and mapping out the various dives.
It took me a while to remember I could kick back and take things easy. Once I did I was back into the almost heavenly experience of spending my time identify fish, collecting coins and mapping out the various dives.
As before, Endless Ocean 2, offers similar equipment upgrades for recovery of found items, but now there are a host of new tools at your disposal. There is a stun gun that can be used to incapacitate aggressive fish - this is also slightly strangely used to heal hurt fish, but there you go. There is an underwater scanner to look for salvageable items. There are also some new feeding and petting interactions for the fish. But largely this is the same as before.
The big addition though is that you can now explore a range of worldwide dive sites. Each of these also offers the chance to discover wildlife both underwater and on the shoreline with the new go a shore option. Along with the day-evening-night cycles this creates some beautiful settings and palettes in which to while away your time.
This is a truly grown up experience as well.
Endless Ocean 2 is a strong follow up to the first game. It expands the experience, offers a more directive main story and expands the experience around the edges. The genius for a family is that this now genuinely engages with a range of ages. Those young will be awe struck by the simple mind expanding nature of underwater diving - although those more sensitive may find the drama of some aggressive fish encounters a little scary. Others will be fascinated by the various creatures and fact they encounter - such as a Whale pup feeding from it's mother like other mammals. Then there are the action encounters to keep older siblings happy.
For me though, it's become a great way to while away the small hours of the evening. Taking to the sees, with a glass of Highland Park in hand, is both relaxing and edifying. As my tipple would imply, this is a truly grown up experience as well. This all the more so by taking pictures that could then decorate my real world desktop or mantle piece.
Endless Ocean was as much an diving simulator as it was a video game. The sequel retains it's realistic credentials, but expands things to include a adventure experience, multiple locations and more varied interactions.
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