Friday, January 25, 2013

Trine 2: Director's Cut (Wii U) Review

With the Wii U eShop's launch, we have already seen a drastic improvement over Nintendo's efforts with the Wii and their WiiWare service. The support of indie developers is seemingly strong and looks to become even better. Today's game comes from the Wii U eShop, and launched with the system. It's Trine 2: Director's Cut, developed and self-published by Frozenbyte. Let's see if the game is worth your while, especially if you've played the original Trine 2 on another platform.

A Cut Above the Original in Nearly Every Way

The original Trine 2 released on digital platforms such as Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network in 2011. Almost a year later, the developer Frozenbyte has self-published a special version of the game for the Wii U eShop for the system's launch, Trine 2: Director's Cut. For those who have already played the vanilla version of the game, is this director's cut worth the $19.99 asking price?

The story of Trine 2 once again has the fabled Trine artifact binding three heroes, Amadeus the wizard, Zoya the thief, and Pontius the knight together on a danger-filled journey to save the kingdom. All they'll have to face are platforming challenges, puzzles, and the occasional barrage of the goblin menace. Not too much work, right? The tale is told through scripted sequences and spoken by a narrator. I must admit that about midway through the initial quest's story, I totally forgot why my party of three heroes was even going through the levels in the first place. The story just seems to be there, but at least there is some humorous banter between the characters.

The three protagonists of Trine 2 each have their own specialties and uses. For example, Amadeus the wizard can conjure boxes and planks out of thin air to make reaching high platforms possible. He can also move certain objects. Meanwhile, Pontius the knight is the brawn of the group. He is able to smash special rocks, take care of enemies easily with his sword or hammer, and he can deflect fire and other attacks with his shield. Finally, Zoya the thief is a nimble little woman. She can grapple wooden ceilings to swing across chasms, as well as snipe foes from afar with her bow and arrows. In a solo run, one character appears on screen at a time, and you cycle through the three when the desire comes.

Pontius' shield protects him from such annoyances
like these spiked balls of doom.
Each of the trio of characters has their own health gauge. When it depletes to nothing, they perish, and can only be revived by reaching a checkpoint. When all three characters go the way of the Dodo, the player is taken back to the last checkpoint reached. If you select Hardcore Mode before starting the game, when a character dies, they are gone for good until the level is complete, and then they are revived. This makes for a difficult challenge as the three characters are very much needed because as stated, each has their own abilities that allow you, the player, to get through a given level.

That is because all three protagonists are needed to work together to solve the various puzzles Trine 2: Director's Cut throws at you. An early puzzle requires players to somehow remove a large snail from the protagonists' path. This is performed by guiding a trickling stream of water onto a glowing spot on the ground so a leafy vine can grow out from the ground. This vine is quite appetizing to the snail, causing it to move out of the heroes' way. The real fun of the game comes from knowing that there usually isn't just one solution to solving a puzzle, there can be several.

While this amphibian dines on its meal,
use the opportunity to cross on its tongue.
However, with the fun of Trine 2: Director's Cut also comes the occasional fit of frustration when you just cannot seem to wrap your head around what to do at a given point and a given puzzle. Additionally, the slower pacing than what usual platforming fans are accustomed to can also create a sense of ennui in the player. I, for one, enjoyed the methodical nature of the game.

There's little time to stop and stare at the
scenery-- there's a kingdom that needs saving!
Besides moving through Trine 2: Director's Cut's levels, there are other activities to engage in. Almost all of the twenty chapters in the game contain two hidden treasure chests which possess artwork or poems that delve into the backstory of the game. These are generally placed in hard-to-reach or secret areas, outside of and away from the beaten path. There are also experience orbs that hang in the air, rest in boxes, dropped by enemies, and put in various locations for you to find. Completing the game 100% (i.e. collecting all the treasures and experience orbs) will take upwards of twenty hours to accomplish. That is quite good for a twenty dollar downloadable title.

Battle goblins, rock monsters, and yes, even dragons.
The aforementioned experience orbs that linger about the various levels are important to collect as for every 50 that are gathered, you earn a skill point. These skill points can be used to purchase special skills for one of your three adventurers. Amadeus can gain the ability to have more than one box or plank on screen at the same time instead of the low limit of one. Zoya can learn how to attribute frost, fire, and explosive elements to her arrows. Lastly, Pontius is able to chuck his hammer to destroy rocks and foes from far away. Those are just some examples of skills the three heroes can learn.

The Director's Cut version of Trine 2 includes the original thirteen chapters of the original version, plus the Goblin Menace expansion for free, which includes six more chapters. Finally, a Wii U exclusive level called the Dwarven Caverns is included, but this level can only be played once all the treasure chests in the prior nineteen levels are found and opened.

One of the levels from the Goblin Menace expansion.
If playing alone gets old, Trine 2: Director's Cut allows up to three players to play the game together, either through local or online play. You can opt for a classic or unlimited setup. One allows players to freely switch between all three characters on the fly while the other does not. At the time of this review, the patch that includes Pro Controller support, voice chat for online, and enhanced visuals has only arrived in Europe. The rest of the world is still waiting for it. However, the online experience is still rather great regardless. If online isn't your cup of tea and you're more of a local multiplayer fan like myself, you and your friends can play the game with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combo, the Classic Controller or Classic Controller Pro, or the Wii U GamePad.

Partner up with friends or total strangers in co-op.
It cannot be said enough how much better the Trine 2 experience is with the Wii U GamePad. In the original Trine 2, as Amadeus, you had to drag a cursor around the screen with the analog stick to draw objects to conjure up. With the GamePad, all you have to do is draw a box or straight line anywhere on the screen to have it appear. This makes the experience all the more faster and less clunky than it would be on another platform.

Trine 2: Director's Cut is absolutely gorgeous on Wii U. Everything just shines, whether it be the lighting, the special effects, the models, the jaw-dropping backgrounds, and so forth. It is simply a spectacular game to look at, and I found myself sitting still with a look of wonder and awe on my face as I marveled at everything on screen. Then there is the sound, which also impresses. The voice acting is rather good, and the music fits the fantasy medieval setting of the game well, too. Trine 2: Director's Cut is without a doubt one of the most captivating games on the Wii U when it regards presentation.

The graphics are absolutely astounding.
Frozenbyte's first Wii U project is a definite success. If you are looking for the definitive version of Trine 2, then the Director's Cut version is the one to get. It has almost everything you could want: better controls, better visuals, more content, a fun multiplayer experience, and a nice price point. The only thing missing is voice chat, but that is forthcoming (and already there for European players). If you enjoy the kind of slower-paced platforming games that are sprinkled with moments to make you use your mental muscles, then Trine 2: Director's Cut is an essential purchase for your Wii U.

[SuperPhillip Says 9.0/10]

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