Have you ever wanted to be a fireman, but didn’t have the physical fortitude? What about trying out for the Police Squad, only to find out you didn’t have the dexterity required? I have a dream job for you; become an “Escape Expert”. You see, you don’t have to be a weight-lifter or a sprinter to do be an escapologist (it just sounds fun, doesn’t it?). Exit 2 puts you in the shoes of Mr. ESC, and charges you with various “situations” that require the rescuing of incompetent civilians.
Should you consider signing up for this high-risk career on the Xbox Live Arcade? Read on to find out.
If you’re looking for an original, stylized game, Exit 2 is it. The entire title has a “detective noir” vibe to it; from the music, to the visuals, down to Mr. ESC’s attitude/dialogue. Every world (called “situations”) has a very unique feel to it, and often times it feels like you’re playing a comic book. The shadowy feel of the characters is mesmorizing, which allows for characteristic accessories like Mr. ESC’s hat and tie to stand out. Mr. ESC’s soothing voice is also a plus, but I can’t say the same about the people he is rescuing.
In Exit 2, Mr. ESC will have to save various types of “individuals” from certain doom. These range from children, who can barely do anything on their own, but can crawl into tight spaces; young-adults, who can do everything on their own; and adults, who for some reason are always over-weight, but are significantly stronger than the other individuals. Exit 2 also adds two new characters to the mix: the Macho, who can do everything Mr. ESC can do except leap large gaps, and the Dog, who has an incredible leaping ability but can’t use items. The number of different individuals found in the game is spot-on, as there are never too many to keep track of, but there’s enough to garner interest. Often times these characters will spout random sound-bites like “help me!” or “I’m over here!” It can get really annoying, especially when the fat characters are having trouble climbing up a small platform and yell “I need help!” every five seconds.
Exit 2 is more of a puzzler than it’s platforming predecessor, and as a result, the gameplay is a bit slow. In order to successfully master Exit 2, the player has to be able to control Mr. ESC and his individuals at the same time. While sometimes you’ll find yourself just using Mr. ESC during a level, the core gameplay is found in utilizing the individuals to accomplish your goal. To do this, you’ll have to often times control Mr. ESC with the left stick, and your party members with a cursor using the right stick. The actual cursor is a bit slow on the draw, but you can easily switch between individuals by pressing the left or right trigger (a welcome addition).
Controlling individuals is as easy as moving the cursor with the right-stick onto them, clicking (or pressing Y alternatively), and clicking where they want to go. It takes some getting used to at first, but it works quite well. You can even tell the competent individuals to do things for you, which can get really fun when you have multiple survivors running around to your beck and call. Unfortunately, the mechanic that Taito came up with to counter-act this requirement is to force Mr. ESC to control very sluggishly. There is quite a bit of a delay when Mr. ESC tries to go up or down stairs, or climb a ladder. He also takes longer than usual to turn around, or climb very short distances. Despite his sluggish response rate, Mr. ESC has a great control scheme at his disposal, and a very elegant map screen.
Exit 2 also gives you bang for your buck, even if it doesn’t stray from the usual offering. The game’s 240 levels (with sets of 24 unique worlds) will keep you going for a long time, as will leaderboards and promised download content. You’re also allowed to choose a large assortment of levels from the beggining (like N+), so if you’re bored in a particular area you can skip ahead. I can’t help but feel like Exit 2 should have included a multiplayer or mini-game mode this time around, however. A split-screen “save the individuals first” would have worked great local or online-only. A mini-game mode would have also shot some life into the replay value, as many gamers are going to eventually be turned off by the increasing difficulty of the game’s story mode.
If you become easily frustrated, Exit 2 may not be for you. Later in the game, the gameplay becomes exceedingly difficult, and requires you to think on your toes while operating two different control schemes at the same time. I would strongly recommend you play the demo to try out the controls; only keeping in mind that it gets better.
Exit 2 is stylized so well, you'll become immersed in it's world. Each "situation" feels like a completely different experience.
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Even with 4 different control schemes, something still feels amiss. Mr. ESC is awkward to control, and the gameplay is slow, which will turn many gamers off.
The music sets the mood of the game beautifully, as do the sound effects (especially the dial-tone when encountering an obstacle), but you'll get sick of the constant moans and groans from the rescuees and hearing "I have to take a shower!!" over and over.
With 240 levels, promised download content, and leaderboards, there is a lot to look forward to. Every situation has a different feel as well, which encourages you to actually complete the game. I do wish a multiplayer mode was included this time around though, even if it was split-screen, or was a seperate "mini-game" to give players something to do other than saving individuals.
Exit 2's slow gameplay may turn off some, but fans of a puzzle/platformer hybrid will find it interesting. Try the demo.