games / Reviews

Trine 2 Review (XBLA)

December 22, 2011 | Posted by Vince Osorio

There’s something so inherently magical and innocent about a fairy tale, that only a few different artistic mediums have captured that essence. A scant few novels, movies, television shows and games has gotten that “feel” down. I am here to tell you today that Trine 2 is possibly the best fairy tale game you’ll ever play. It’s a lovingly crafted ode to the pastel landscapes and whimsical creatures that we see in our imagination after a Grimm Brothers’ tale. And it just so happens that it’s a great puzzle-platformer to boot.

The first Trine was only available for PC and the PlayStation Network as a downloadable title, so this is the first appearance of the franchise on the Xbox. With that said, the game does a solid job of bring you up to speed with the mechanics and characters. The title refers to an ancient artifact that the three main characters (Zoya the thief, Amadeus the wizard and Pontius the knight) encounter in the first game, the Trine. The Trine has the ability to bind souls of those who encounter it, though only one person is able to physically exist, while the others remain in the Trine. This is basically the game’s main conceit- you can switch between three completely different characters at any time to encounter the world’s puzzles. Trine 2 tells the story of yet another adventure featuring the knight, the thief and the wizard, as the Trine binds them once again and transports them to a magical, though dangerous land the likes of which have never seen before. The three heroes attempt to get themselves out of this mysterious world, but not before stumbling upon a sibling rivalry that has enormous implications on the kingdom itself.

The plot, while interesting in its own right, isn’t really the big draw of the game. The interaction with the world is truly what makes Trine 2 worth playing. Immediately, you’re drawn into an absolutely gorgeous, lush, detailed world with a great amount of attention played to both the fore and background. It’s something that I’d imagine would play wonderfully in 3D (though there isn’t support for such a mode at this time). There are some amazing bloom effects at play here, giving you the impression that you’re traveling in a bright, colorful world. Trine 2 will bring you to a world with overgrown plants, gargantuan snails, enormous frogs and insane, grotesque goblins. It’s a game whose art direction will stay with you long after the game is over. Only Rayman Origins has a design that can compare to what Trine 2 brings to the table. It’s legitimately one of the best looking games I’ve ever seen.

As I mentioned before, the three characters all control differently. Amadeus has no real attacks, but can use magic to grab and adjust objects and enemies in the environment, as well as to create boxes and planks to traverse across platforms. Zoya has a ranged bow and arrow that can be upgraded with more powerful fire and ice arrows, and she has a grappling hook that attaches to any and all wooden platforms, allowing her to zip to areas without much hassle. Pontius is the least mobile of the crew, but the strongest, as he has a powerful hammer which can be thrown to break down rock obstacles, not to mention his trusty sword and shield combo which allows him to block attacks that would kill the other two heroes instantly. Half the fun of the game is using each character to the bets of their abilities and switching constantly throughout each level in order to solve a puzzle. For example, Amadeus can create a plank, which Pontius can ride on and block incoming lava attacks, then Zoya can zip up to a wooden platform to reach the next area. Although it’s nearly impossible to do so, you can absolutely play the game using one character. There’s even a tough achievement that can get unlocked by playing through a level without switching. It’s doable, but not necessarily fun. Every character feels different enough that you’d want to use all of the characters as much as you could.

With that said, I have quite a few problems with the game itself. It’s not all that different from the first Trine, speaking from a gameplay perspective. You’ll be using the same actions that you learn at the beginning of the first game that you’ll use at the end of the second game. The combat doesn’t have all that much depth- it’s easy to just mash the attack button until all of the enemies have been slain. The framerate is stable, but the Xbox version runs at a lower resolution than the PC version (which can run at 1920 x 1180 resolution, at 60 frames per second) and seems to be locked at somewhere around 30 FPS. The boss battles aren’t so much puzzles as they are just endurance tests, while you’ll have some problems with the physics in the game when you really shouldn’t. It kind of sucks that a wizard can craft boxes from thin air, but can’t actually turn an item clockwise while letting it hover off the ground. It also sucks that Zoya’s grappling hook is far less useful that, say, Nathan Spencer’s bionic arm. While I appreciate the co-op, it’s inherently less fun to be restricted to one character when paired up with two other human players, since I enjoy switching and using all the characters. The restrictive camera also can impede obstacles and fail to show players off-screen, leading to some unintentional pratfalls. That’s just my opinion though, and co-op is a blast as long as you have the right crew.

Pros
-Absolutely gorgeous fairy tale world brought to life.
-Fun physics puzzles allow for infinite solutions to any obstacle in the game.
-All three characters are extremely fun to use.
-Lovely soundtrack and voice acting.

Cons
-Gameplay hasn’t evolved a ton since the first game.
-Three player Co-op means you’ll be confined to using one character throughout a level.
-Compared to the PC version, the resolution is lacking.
-Weak boss battles and button-mashing combat.

Final Comments:

All the faults, however, still can’t hold back Trine 2. It’s a tough but rewarding puzzle-platform game that looks absolutely gorgeous. It nails the feel of a living, breathing fairy tale world better than any game, movie, or TV show I’ve seen this generation.

Graphics9.5Legitimately one of best looking downloadable titles out there, though it can't compare to the PC version.411 Elite Award
Gameplay9.0Each character feels distinct and the puzzle/platforming gameplay is extremely rewarding. 
Sound9.0Great orchestral soundtrack backed with some very amusing narration and commentary by the main heroes. 
Lasting Appeal7.0The game features unlockable artwork and poems inspired by the levels. Game lasts 5-6 hours depending on your skill level. 
Fun Factor 8.5Some frustrating moments due to wonky physics, but otherwise this is a top-notch platformer. 
Overall9.0   [  Amazing ]  legend

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Vince Osorio
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