Who knew that eating two dimensional fish could be this addictive? Or indeed frustrating? PopCap’s sequel to their internet hit is both a blessing and a curse on the unwitting gamer, with seemingly simple, child-friendly gameplay that will be sure to spark marine-foodchain related rage.
In Feeding Frenzy 2, players initially take the role of Boris, an insignificant fish in search of a purpose in what must be a rather pitiful existence. Starting off with a few herrings and some starfish, Boris launches into a truly horrific, hunger fuelled rampage, killing any innocent creature that falls into his path.
Every power-up or fish consumed gives points; a score multiplier manifests itself as an Unreal Tournament announcer-voiced “FRENZY” bar. Although the game adds the occasional new enemy or gameplay mechanic, it fails to justify its daunting 60 level total. It’s as though the developers decided on the beginning and end then pulled the number 60 out of a hat. There’s also a crushingly easy version of the main story dubbed “Lite” as well as a “Time Trial” mode that simply adds a time limit. This will probably only appeal to hardcore Feeding Frenzy fans- additionally, it only awards awards a bronze trophy for the mode’s completion.
The game’s complex left-stick control system provides a wealth of frustration, as do various gameplay modifiers; such as a speed “bonus” that will more often than not just offer an instant death as a reward, especially in the later and infinitely more crowded levels. In each level Boris must eat the midget-fish whilst avoiding any predators. When he reaches a particular quota he spontaneously swells, gaining the ability to tackle the next level of potential prey, before eventually growing large enough to eat most living organisms that enter the confines of the screen.
Every 8 levels or so, a brand new, slightly larger fish is presented to the player. The highlight of this game for me was unlocking the shark – aptly named Goliath – and continuing my endless search for prey with a set of pearly-white deathspikes.
The simplistic 2D graphics are clean and colourful, and although it would be a stretch to say that the character designs are imaginative, at least they’re ichthyologically accurate (look it up), which has to count for something. I would complain about the large amount of blue in the game, but this has to be expected from the marine setting. Audio in Feeding Frenzy in generally good, although the menu music sounds like a hellish cross between the Shire theme tune and a children’s tv programme. The use of the announcer voice for declaring a feeding frenzy (eg: “MEGA FRENZY!”) is, unfortunately, badly executed. He sounds less than enthusiastic, as though he’s mumbling deliriously in his sleep.
Fortunately though, local multiplayer may well be the game’s saviour, which is the main source of the game’s aforementioned addictiveness. The online leaderboards perform as expected, with options to filter by friends or global rank for time trial, single player or multiplayer modes, although I’m mysteriously ranked at 60th in the world on points. On the one hand there might not be many people who bought the game, but I’d like to think it’s down to my superior fish feasting skills.
Feeding Frenzy 2 isn’t a particularly innovative game, but it still holds some appeal. Being the sequel of a flash game inevitably leads to a lack of graphical flourish, although it’d would be unfair to hold that against it. The visuals are still sharp and bright enough to look good in HD, whilst the inclusion of local multiplayer is a godsend, potentially doubling its overall longevity.