STAFF REVIEW of Fuzion Frenzy 2 (Xbox 360)

Monday, January 29, 2007.
by Adam Rivard

Fuzion Frenzy 2 Box art You need a pretty good reason to splash out on four controllers when you buy a system. You need a game that?s going to provide endless fun for you and your friends. You need a game that justifies the extra $150 you?re spending on hardware. Microsoft is hoping that Fuzion Frenzy 2 will do the trick. The results are in, and for all intents and purposes, I personally think Fuzion Frenzy 2 is a pretty solid party title. It mimics the first one; everything is very familiar but it is still a fairly solid party game for the 360. It?s got its fair share of faults, and it?s by no mean perfect, but given the lack of party games on the 360, Fuzion Frenzy 2 pulls through comparatively well. Now we all know that party games are not very complex and that their goal is to let someone (anyone) pick up a controller and immediately get into the spirit of the action alongside experienced players. That is what makes the genre so appealing. Oh and I want to announce right now that the Turbine Jumper game is back as well as Sumo, my two personal favorites from the first Fuzion Frenzy?OH YEAH!!!

The first thing you?ll notice is that the board game formula has been scrapped just like the first Fuzion Frenzy. It was often said that the Monopoly-style gameplay that tied minigames together in titles such as Mario Party detracted from the minigames, because it slowed the pace too much, and it factored in an irritating luck-of-the-draw result far too often. To remedy this, Fusion Frenzy developers have simply abandoned the idea altogether, instead they like to throw gamers head first into frenzied multiplayer mayhem.
Gamers can choose from either the tournament mode, minigames or custom tailored games. Tournament mode makes up the bulk of the game, and allows you to battle it out with two or three mates across seven planets; you are able to compete in 40 different mini-games which are randomly chosen and you must become the ultimate victor. The minigame mode lets you chose which game you want to play, which is great because there are plenty of boring minigames you won?t mind skipping. Now for the new stuff, Fuzion Frenzy 2 is Xbox Live enabled. Players are able to create their own unique tournaments that can be shared on Live while building achievement points. Which makes for some very fast paced head to head online action?
The minigames featured range is from really exciting to dead boring. Unfortunately, you?ll find that you become bored with otherwise exciting minigames because their formula is repeated and changed slightly across multiple minigames. For example, you may be required to be the last player holding a ball in one game, whereas in the next game, you must be the only player not holding the ball. Similarly, games will require you to dunk balls in colored holes on foot, and the next will require you to do it in small hovercraft. There is a decent selection, but you?ll find some to be far more mediocre than others. Some minigames are slightly modified versions of the first Fuzion Frenzy but are still a welcomed addition to the second installment because of their popularity (Turbine Jumper, Sumo). Thankfully, the minigame frenzy mode allows you to pick and choose a selection of minigames to play in succession with your mates, so you can eliminate the more tedious games manually.
Needless to say, as a single player game, Fuzion Frenzy 2 isn't very compelling. There are three AI settings, but 'easy' is little more than an excuse to explore the game types without any real competition. 'Medium' and 'hard' pit you against 'way too hard' and 'next to impossible' opponents, respectively. Without other players around, Fuzion Frenzy 2 is sure to spend a lot of time on your shelf. For the inexperienced players, before every minigame starts you can see all the controls for that specific game, and you can even practice the game before hand so you know exactly what to expect when it counts.

Fuzion Frenzy 2 takes little advantage of the Xbox 360's graphics capability. All of the games take place on a single screen, so the camera zooms in and out to keep everyone in view. This can lead to odd situations, like being unable to see powerups or the track in front of you. A lot of the game is bright and colorful, but some of the environments have a dark urban theme, relying on lighting effects to add a splash of color. The water effects are considerably better then the previous Fuzion Frenzy as well as the texture work of the ice.

When the camera zooms way out, this sometimes consists of watching small smears of color against dark backgrounds. The lack of interactive and dynamic elements in the environments is particularly disappointing. Some levels have buttons that can briefly change things around, or objects that you can throw at other players to stun them. Yet there are very few 'wow, look at that!' moments. The characters are not exactly what I like to call next gen but they get the job done, oh and by the way it?s the same 4 characters from the first game (I don?t know if that?s good or bad).

The music in the game is pretty suitable for a party game with its futuristic music, some of it being techno. You can always just listen to your own tunes from your 360?s hard drive instead of the game's music. As for characters, Zak sounds like he's going through puberty which is kind of annoying to listen to. All the characters in this game also have some sayings which are cool for like the first minute or so but later get rather annoying and don?t even get me started on the announcer; I think we?ve had enough of him from the first Fuzion Frenzy.

In a nutshell not much has changed with the general concept behind the series; Fuzion Frenzy 2 is still a collection of multiplayer mini-games, though graphically updated for the 360. I?ve noticed a few nice visual details, like the texture work on the ice surfaces, though on the whole the game does not look terribly stunning. But when it comes to sitting shoulder to shoulder with some of your friends, Fuzion Frenzy 2 is a passable alternative to having to teach a new player how all the buttons work in another game such as Gears of war. But since it doesn't have much long-term appeal, think of this as a brief mindless place to occasionally visit with friends.

Overall: 7.8 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.6 / 10
Sound: 7.8 / 10


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