De-Blob-2---Xbox-360-Review De Blob 2 - Xbox 360 Review

   28/02/2011 at 08:38       Phil May       5 COMMENTS. - Score 5/5
 - De Blob 2, THQ, SyFy Kids, Blue Tongue, Xbox 360

How often have you heard the phrase “If this was on the PS3 or 360 instead of the Wii, I’d have bought it in a heartbeat!”

Casting console fanboism aside for a second, the original De Blob was one such game. Though I played a couple of hours of it, struggling with the Wii controller and the lower-end graphics, I really thought the game was stunning and uttered the aforementioned phrase before consigning it to the trade-in bins.

No excuses this time around with the sequel, which is hitting the Wii, the PS3 and the 360.

Playing the 360 version, the first thing that leaps out at you (quite literally, in 3D mode) is the visual clarity and smoothness. The Wii version in 480p was merely OK. On the 360 on a decent TV running at 1080p, De Blob effortlessly mixes sharp stylish graphics with the series’ trademark character designs. Perhaps then this is the reason why the game manages to keep up a blisteringly smooth framerate with no tearing.

Aussie developers Blue Tongue seem to know their way around a control interface too. Joypad controls don’t feel clunky (as you’d expect from a game that’s made the transition from motion controls) and though there were a couple of instances during gameplay where the camera system got its knickers in a twist, it’s extremely easy to play and with THQ marketing the game at younger players, it’s a good job that it’s as intuitive as it is.

Still, why should the youngsters have all the fun? What’s in store for the rest of us?

Picking up the story directly from De Blob 1, once again Blob is called upon to defeat a nasty would-be dictator, this time in the shape of one Papa Blanc, a mysterious religious cult leader with a pure hatred for all things colourful.

Papa Blanc hires his bleachy minions to sap the colour from Prisma City sector by sector, enslaving the hapless Raydians and turning them into mindless white-suited zombies.

Naturally, as a colourful blobby chap you’re not going to stand for this, and enlisting the help of Pinky, a knowledgeable sidekick, Blob soon sets out to put the colourful world to rights.

As with De Blob 1, the core gameplay involves rolling your spherical Blob over any colourless sectors to restore them to their former glory. In De Blob 2, there are several puzzle elements that must be solved in order to fill various colour sources which you can dip yourself in before running roughshod over the bland landscape.

For the first run-through I decided to play the game in 3D mode. If your TV is capable of translating a side-to-side 3D signal (a la Call of Duty: Black Ops) you’re in for a bit of a treat. De Blob 2 works beautifully in 3D, the crisp and clear visuals helping to make the game levels really stand out. I’m a notorious 3D naysayer but astonishingly De Blob 2 is the first 3D game that’s truly made me sit up and take notice. 3D mode isn’t merely tacked on, it really lends something to the gameplay with each of the game levels really coming alive, more so as you dab your colourful trails across them.

Particle effects zoom out at you, and in a rather nifty and neat touch, each time you touch any of the vehicles dotted around the landscape, they’ll stutter and splutter to life, zooming around the screen, again adding to the 3D effect immensely.

The only drawback of 3D is those bloody awful glasses. No amount of fiddling or messing about with the set I own can make the things in any way comfortable, so after a good few hours of blissful 3D play I had to give up the ghost and take the bloody things off because they were cutting a couple of nasty grooves in the bridge of my nose. If you’ve got a 3D set with a (better, more comfortable) set of 3D specs, you’re definitely in for a treat with this.

The gameplay’s gentle difficulty curve, again very youngster-friendly, means that you slowly get to grips with Blob’s special powers and abilities as you unlock and discover more elements of Prisma City’s vast urban landscape. When a sector is restored via the transformation bomb, each tiny little inhabitant and each detailed city block roars to life in a blaze of colour. Throwing in the extra power of ‘big and proper’ consoles obviously meant that Blue Tongue could go to town with the neat little touches that reward a player’s efforts to restore the balance of colour.

As the game progresses, things get a little more dangerous. Nasty black pools of ink start appearing, and a long dip in this nasty stuff can kill Blob. The only antidote is to either don a Hazmat suit (which you’ll find in various locations) or a quick dip in clear water to wash all the ink off.

Later puzzle levels rely heavily on your platform-jumping prowess both in 2.5D and 3D. Certain buildings in Prisma City act like side-on platform levels, and you’ll find switches, turnstiles and transformation bombs must be activated in a certain way in order to re-colour a building and trigger that sector’s completion. These mini puzzle levels are really good fun. If THQ / Blue Tongue ever fancied developing a version of De Blob for IOS, these levels represent a very good way to pull that off.

Other powerups are also at Blob’s disposal, and items can also be purchased with ‘inspiration’ – the in-game currency. You can level up Blob’s size and paint-storing capacity, or just purchase shields and other items to protect you from Papa Blanc’s bleachy nastiness.

Though Prisma City stretches across a fairly substantial map, each level feels like it has something new to offer and it’s testament to how good this game is that I ended up spending a huge amount of time playing it, shrugging off other games in my current pile of shame (games like Dead Space 2 and Test Drive Unlimited 2, which happen to be the sort of fare you’d more commonly find on the 360).

Even when you're done with the single player mode, De Blob 2 offers up plenty of co-op fun in split screen or on Xbox Live with one player using Blob and the other using Pinky.

So De Blob 2 feels fantastically fresh, genuinely fun to play and quite challenging as you get further into it. It’s been put together beautifully and Blue Tongue definitely deserve a tip of the hat for doing a superb job with Prime (their new 3D game engine).

If you’re looking for a reason for the high score it’s this. De Blob 2 is a bloody fantastic little game that blew away my expectations. It’s the sort of game the Xbox 360 needs a hell of a lot more of. Even the 3D works superbly, so if you’re on the lookout for an antidote to drab khakis and greys, De Blob 2 will most certainly add a splash of much needed colour to your gaming life.

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