Endless Ocean: Blue World (Review)

May 4, 2010 at 9:19 PM | Posted in (All Posts), Reviews, Video Game Reviews | Leave a comment
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When I got my Wii on Christmas Day of 2006, I could only imagine the kinds of games that I would be playing on that wonderful little white system in the next few years.

I’m not sure if I was aware of the game at the time or not, but when videos and screens of Endless Ocean started coming up, I knew it was a game I wanted to buy. What I didn’t know is that it was a game I would fall in love with.

I can tell you right now that Endless Ocean is one of my favorite games on the Wii AS WELL as one of my favorite games of all time. That is absolutely no lie.

I’m very thankful this is a review for the sequel of Endless Ocean, because by now most people know that they either LOVE Endless Ocean or HATE/DON’T GET THE APPEAL of Endless Ocean. I am on the side of those who love the game and genuinely find it to be one of the most original titles out on the market today — especially on a home console.

If you have any love of the ocean or marine life, this game will really draw you in. The idea of diving underwater and surrounding yourself by a blue world (no pun intended) is very intriguing to those of us who love the ocean. Endless Ocean, when it was released in early 2008, easily accomplished what it set out to do — make a relaxing yet adventurous game about exploring the sea and all of the life it encompasses.

To start out — what is Endless Ocean: Blue World? Endless Ocean: Blue World is a sequel to 2008’s Endless Ocean on the Nintendo Wii.

Basically, you are a scuba diver and from a third person view (or optional first person view) you explore underwater environments, discovering and studying species of fish by highlighting them via pointer that you aim with your Wii remote.

Holding in the B Button while pointing in the desired direction makes your character swim in that direction. Highlighting an underwater species (when close enough) allows you to press the A button and “study” about the species. A few interactive actions can be done at that point — rubbing the fish, petting them, feeding them — all done by either pressing the A button or doing a slight gesture with the Wii remote.

Your character has a boat that you use to travel to various diving locations. At each location when you anchor your boat, you have a certain radius that your character can dive and travel before you get a warning that you are getting to far from your boat.

So in summary — you more or less just dive around and point where you want to go and discover fish species.

And no, the fish could not hurt you in the first game. BUT in the sequel some degree of danger does exist — more on that in a moment.

The game is and was designed to be a visual feast for your eyes, a relaxing experience for your mind, and create a sense of exploration. The first game achieved ALL of this.

But the first Endless Ocean did do a few things wrong —

*Unlocking new areas of the map seemed rather random. Sometimes diving multiple times in the same area with little success of finding new species would randomly generate your boat receiving a message that more of the Manoa Lai (the setting of the first game) map is now accessible.

*Finding an extremely rare species of fish didn’t just feel near impossible — sometimes it downright was impossible. Although the game had somewhat of a calendar setting and records were kept of when certain species would be in certain areas, you could almost always expect to never find a rare species that you sought out.

*When you would receive a request for a certain type of fish, taking a practically PERFECT picture of that species front and center with a finesse and visual art form would end up getting negative results. It made no sense.

For me, that is really the only complaints that I had leaving the first Endless Ocean. Filling out your Species Book was something I really wanted to do, but when certain fish just NEVER show up it can become frustrating. Of course, completing your species book is not required to get the “ending” to the game, but it was difficult to move onto another game knowing that I lacked 10 species or so from getting all of them.

So again, what is Endless Ocean: Blue World? It builds upon what the first game was, corrects its problems, but somewhere in the process of adding “more” it slightly (I repeat — slightly) loses a special element that the first game had.

EO:BW is much more story driven. In the first EO, you were simply a diver who was helping a young woman named Catherine study the Manoa Lai region. By the end of the game, you had discovered some old records that her grandfather had begun to look into and you end up discover a new species of whale. But that literally is the entire plot — everything else in the game was basically up to you. The plot progressed rather randomly and the only way to guarantee a new area becoming available was just to keep playing and swimming around.

EO:BW starts you out as a diver from a university that is taking time during his schooling to help some marine biologists and researchers study marine life. It doesn’t take long before some rather breathtaking moments to take place and you get a sense that you are diving into (no pun intended) some mythological history that almost feels like a diet-version of an epic adventure. You’ll find yourself discovering quite a few ancient ruins and running into rare species quite more often than the first game, but this is by no means a bad thing.

The basic format of the game stays the same — you travel on your boat to a place on the map and dive right in. The only difference is that Blue World offers more variety to the location. You can actually travel to 6 different settings instead of the one Manoa Lai region of the first game, and you can even travel on land (though it’s not nearly as extensive as you may think).

To answer a question on the minds of many — can you get attacked (specifically by sharks) in the sequel?

Yes. Yes, you can.

But don’t think that this means death, or even some blood-filled feeding frenzy with limbs floating in the water. You can get attacked, but the most damage that can be done is your character basically gets yanked out of the water and you’re slightly reprimanded for provoking the animals. Granted, you can be attacked when you’re not really doing anything to deserve it, but that happens in real life, you know? Most people don’t want to be attacked by a shark or a barracuda, but it just happens. Get too close and your character might have an underwater scuffle. But you actually have a “pulsar gun” to protect you if things get a little crazy.

^ Oh, and did I mention you can take pictures and store them on your SD card?

“Danger” is measured by a number of factors — how much air you have left, the pressure of how low you are, and if an animal is starting to get aggressive. Unlike in the first game, you have to keep an eye on all this because if you don’t, you’ll get pulled up for not being careful. Like I said — don’t expect to dive in and get your character killed BUT that doesn’t mean you cannot or will not get scared playing the game.

For the most part, however, the game is very laid back and focuses on exploring. The joy comes from finding new species and new areas to research.

Online play is featured, but it only allows you to dive with one other person. You have to exchange friend codes with someone and their character name, but once you’ve gotten past that it works quite well. You either travel to the dock of your friend, or they travel to yours. It literally is the same experience of playing by yourself, but with a friend. You can swim around, take pictures, discover new species and find new areas.

The game actually comes bundled with the Nintendo WiiSpeak for voice chat. Unfortunately, the friends that I went diving with weren’t using the device so I can’t really say much in that field, but judging from how it works in Animal Crossing: City Folk I would assume it works QUITE well.

Everything that Endless Ocean: Blue World does — it does VERY well.

As far as the field of sound and music, my only major complaint is the removal of SD Card MP3 support. In the first game you could load up your SD Card and listen to your own tunes while swimming, but that was removed for whatever reason. To be fair, the tracks in the game are very calming and enjoyable — not to mention they fit very well.

Visually, the game is beautiful.

From a gameplay aspect, you won’t run into any trouble.

Online play works just fine for what it is, so no complaints in that area.

The one problem I seemed to have is that the game tries too hard to bank on moments that it THINKS the player will enjoy, when in reality most of the moments I felt were most special were the ones that I just accidentally encountered. The feeling of really stumbling upon something magical has somehow drifted away in the sequel, but for fans that were looking for a more linear feel — this is something they will disagree with me on.

If you find yourself on the fence about the game, I believe that’s a sign that you WILL like it. The fact that you even could possibly see yourself enjoying it means that you will. I can’t say the same for the first game, but Blue World expands on everything the first game did and adds more. If you find yourself already laughing at the idea of this game, the game is clearly not for you.

If you loved the first Endless Ocean, you will LOVE this one.

If you hated the first Endless Ocean, well, you’re going to hate this one too.

If you liked the first Endless Ocean but gave up because of some minor complaint, I can guarantee that 95% of all the little problems the first game had have been corrected.

All in all, Endless Ocean: Blue Worldgets a very solid 8/10.

You already know if this game is for you or not. I feel that the game is superior to the original in many ways, but I know there is something more than sentimental value behind my love for the first game. Nonetheless, being a fan of this kind of game, it does everything VERY well.

*Two Fins Up*

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