|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Arika||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 22, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The Nintendo Wii is home to a lot of unique gaming experiences. One of those came to us in 2008 in the form of Endless Ocean; a game that, despite its screen-saver box art, satisfied our oceanic fantasies with simple diving mechanics and high-quality visuals. Flash-forward a little over two years, and the sequel - Endless Ocean: Blue World - is also making waves on Wii.
The biggest complaint that I can level at Blue World is that it adds little to the formula; this is one sequel that essentially innovates in no substantive way. As such, you're more or less going to be treated to the same experience that was on offer over two years ago. Of course, Endless Ocean was a widely-praised title, so mimicking the formula exactly is far better than throwing the baby out with the bath water. Still, I would have liked to have seen more than a new storyline and new environments.
The other major complaint, which likely isn't an issue for anyone truly considering buying this game, is that its gameplay mechanics feature a plodding pace and is almost devoid of action - shooting your 'pulsar' at sharks in order to pacify them is more of an annoyance than fun. If you're going to pick this game up, be sure you're looking for a relaxing time full of exploration opportunities. If you're looking to tear the limbs off mobster lobsters and wrestle with giant squids while saving the world from a one-eyed grouper-merman, this isn't the title for you.
What Endless Ocean: Blue World does offer is hours of beautiful virtual diving. The serene visuals, countless varieties of ocean-bound wildlife, expansive, branching environments, and the utility belt full of exploration tools will give the right player a lot of bang for their buck.
Starting out in the South Pacific, you'll join aging dive legend Jean-Eric and his granddaughter Oceana's diving outfit in search of amazing artifacts and sunken ruins of civilization. After getting your sea legs at the crew's atoll HQ, you'll soon find yourself jet-setting around the world in search of clues and epic dives.
The story in Blue World will likely give most players reason enough to work their way through the game. For me, I could have almost done without the plot entirely. In fact, the diving sections, filled with nooks and crannies to explore, fishes to identify, and valuable collectibles to find, are intriguing enough that I found the story portions actually got in the way. This is especially so when you have to fly back to your base of operations countless times - thousands of miles away - just to get an artifact appraised. What happened to the Internet? Waiting through a couple of load-screens, just to empty my salvage bag or to get info that'll lead me to my next objective, felt artificial, yanking me out of the immersion. Still, I suppose the collectibles and artifacts you find are made more rewarding due to the fact that they help advance a narrative.
In terms of gameplay, you'll mostly be tasked with exploring the depths and colorful coral reefs of the world's oceans and seas. You'll investigate and identify hundreds of ocean-dwelling species; I found the cataloguing of these animals to be quite rewarding because I was constantly treated to interesting informational tidbits. You'll also have a ton of gadgets at your disposal to uncover priceless artifacts and even improve the health of the dive site denizens. You'll also be able to train dolphins and create your own private reef. While I could have done without training Shizzle (my dolphin friend), building the private reef with hard-earned purchases and watching new residents come in was quite enjoyable. In fact, grooming your reef is a Viva Piñata-Animal Crossing-like experience that can be shared with friends over Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection. Showing off your reef to friends and then going out on dives together via the co-op online feature is a quality bit of gaming.