NEWS - Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Blinx 2: Masters Of Time & Space Preview

The original Blinx took a lot of criticism. From the camera to the slow pace, most reviews chalked it up as a collaboration of good ideas and so-so execution. So it's a promising sign that almost all of the criticisms of the first game have been addressed in Blinx 2: Masters of Time & Space. The short list of fixes tells us that the worlds are two to three times larger, you can collect crystals in any order rather than being forced to collect specific ones at specific times, there are no longer time limits for levels, your character moves around quicker, you can lock-on to enemies, you can change the difficulty in the middle of the game, you can suck-in objects while moving around, and you have free control of the camera with the right analog stick. We're pleased to see the developers make attempts to fix the gameplay instead of blindly moving forward with new features like some sequels. That's not to say Blinx 2 lacks new features, however. With multiplayer modes, customization options, and a new set of playable characters, there's a lot more than just gameplay polish here. One of the most unexpected new features is that players will be able to play as the enemy pigs in addition to the cats. Levels will alternate between cat stages where you play in an action/platform style and pig stages where you play in a stealthy style. With the stealthy gameply, there will be dark environments and you can use space controls to allow you special techniques like moving underground and creating black holes that suck in enemies. Because you switch back and forward between rival characters, it should be interesting to see how the story mixes in since you might do something in one level that will force you to react to it in the next level when you switch sides. For the multiplayer options, players can either team up and play through the single-player game cooperatively, or they can compete in a four-player battle mode. We had a chance to see the cooperative mode in action, and it involves a lot of communication between the two players to open doors, fire a cannon to hit a target the gunman cannot see, etc. Because of the time control powers that return from the first game, it doesn't make sense to allow both players to be able to manipulate time simultaneously, so there will be a way for players to give different powers to each character to avoid overlap. The level designs will also change if you are playing with two players -- there will be little touches all around to accommodate both players, and there will also be special areas that open up exclusively for co-op. To encourage team play, the two characters can share life if one of them dies, so it doesn't seem like it will be beneficial to compete with your partner as it would be in a game like Zelda: Four Swords Adventures. We didn't get to see the battle mode since it isn't complete enough yet, but we know it will allow four-player competitive play with cats and pigs fighting each other independent of party lines. Another new feature is that players can customize their characters by going to a menu that resembles a create-a-player mode in a sports game. You can alter everything from the size of the tail to the color of your animal, and this feature can be used with both the cats and pigs. Once you create a character, you can then use it in the single-player game, the co-op mode, or the battle mode. A surprising twist is that you will not be able to take your character online. Despite Blinx 2 being a Microsoft-published game and having a hefty multiplayer focus, the game will not have any online support. The developers claim this decision was made to allow them to spend more time on the rest of the game, though it is unusual to have a new game from Microsoft with multiplayer features that are not playable online. Despite that issue, Blinx 2 looks to be heading in the right direction, with a patched-up single-player game and promising multiplayer features, so we look forward to getting some hands-on time with the game soon. It hits stores in November.

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