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Croc 2
Score: 92%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Fox Interactive
Developer: Argonaut Games
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Platformer (3D)

Graphics & Sound:
Things change, and things stay the same. If youíre like me, you bought the first Croc game almost two years ago when it came out. Much like Ms. Croft, Croc seems to feel if it ainít broke, donít fix it. Graphically, Croc 2 has some minor changes, but is essentially the same. Unlike the recently released Tarzan, Fox and Argonaut decided to forego pastels in favor of bright primary colors. This makes for some eye-catching display in the landscapes and backgrounds, plus the special effects have been dialed up from the first game. Character animations are more fluid and natural, partly because the game has been sped up quite a bit. The sound and music (to my ears) is identical, but like the graphics, thereís more of everything.

The plot is pretty simple. Croc trying to get back to his parents, fighting hordes of Baron Danteís minions, and saving those cute, furry Gobbos in the process. Apparently Baron Dante, who was Crocís nemesis from the first game, has been revived. Heís collected a bunch of new baddies, and has many tricks up his own sleeve when you fight him. The character design is brilliant in this game, and the names are hilarious. My own personal favorites are Venus Fly Von Trap and Swap Meet Pete. Each of the huge stages is populated by various Gobbo tribes that will lead you a little closer to your parents, and give you challenges or quests to complete. In this way, the gameplay of Croc 2 is nothing like its predecessor, which was basically just hopping around between bosses. Thereís a real story played out here, and I like it.

In what must be one of the first big corporate tie-in efforts, Gummi Savers appear in the game as little portable trampolines that Croc can carry in his pocket and pull out when needed. These, along with the toy Gobbo, which you can buy from Swap Meet Pete, let you access areas of the game inaccessible to Croc by himself. Again, the design improvements show through. The bottom line is that Croc 2 will be attractive to all the little kiddies out there, but they may cry themselves to sleep because itís too hard. The flip-side of this is that seasoned platformers will find more than enough challenge and depth, if they can get past the cute and cuddly exterior.

Opinions differ between old farts like me a 10-year-old hopped up on Dr. Pepper. But, even as a frequent gamer, I found Croc 2 tough. Some of it is still cheap death, but I was glad to see that most of the ďprogrammingĒ challenges (e.g. bad camera, collision-detection issues) have been fixed, so whatís left is a challenging platformer thatís strong enough to make anybody scream and shake their fist at the sky sometime during the game. I would really like to see this franchise evolve to a point where itís possible to complete the game with modest talent, while still having tons of extras and goodies for the godlike platformers out there to gnaw on.

Game Mechanics:
Croc 2 is all about some butt-stomp action. I was happy to see there are more moves for the little reptile, including a boost-jump and double flip. A lot of the first game involved moving Croc up, down, and sideways, trying to make the camera go where you wanted it to. Thankfully, one of the things improved for Croc 2 is that camera! It now adjusts to give you a ďbehind-the-backĒ view wherever Croc goes. This avoids a lot of the cheap deaths I remember from the first game. Control is smooth, with Dual Shock and analog support, and everything just seems to move quicker. Fox tuned up the game engine and it shows.

Other changes include a number of side-quests or mini-games, depending on your definition. The third level of each stage involves a vehicle; my favorite is the speed boat, but thereís something for everyone. Controls are simple on all vehicles, and thereís enough variety (gliding, boating, driving, etc.) to satisfy even the shortest attention span. Like so many of the new platformers, Fox brings the genre up to speed in Croc 2. The first game was fun, but you really noticed the lack of variety after 30 or 40 levels! Other details include a barter system for items, which allows you to trade the crystals you collect for tools and gadgets, including a toy Gobbo! Another addition is the ability to use OmniPlay so that two characters can control Croc at once. Also, there is true character interaction, which adds tons of personality. Meetings with friends and foes involve little text-box dialog that almost bring an RPG quality into Croc 2. Me like!

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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