Sunday, December 29, 2013

‘Cut the Rope 2′ For iOS Game Review

The original Cut the Rope is one of the all time great games on the mobile platform. Featuring simple yet challenging gameplay and lovable animation, the game won many hearts around the world and ended up being downloaded millions of times on various platforms.

 Now, after releasing several variations of the original game, ZeptoLab has released a true successor in the form of Cut the Rope 2. With new characters, new gameplay mechanics and updated visuals, Cut the Rope 2 seems ready to reinvent the game. Let’s see how well it manages to achieve that.

Cut the Rope 2 closely follows the premise of the original game but throws in several new additions along the way. You still have to get the candy to the lovable monster Om Nom while getting all the stars in the level. But for the first time, Cut the Rope 2 also introduces additional monsters that you can control in the game.
The game has five level packs and each one introduces a new monster. There’s Roto, Lick, Blue, Toss and Boo. Each of these has a different ability; Roto will fly around a level along a fixed path and will pick up and carry either the candy or Om Nom if they fall in its vicinity. Lick has a long tongue that can be used to create obstructions or paths for the candy simply by tapping on him. Blue multiplies every time you tap on him (till a limited number of times); this can be used to create a platform or for a support pillar in some levels. Toss will catch candy, Om Nom or certain other objects that fall on him and then you can tap on him for him to toss them in the air. Boo will scare Om Nom every time they come in contact with each other, which causes the latter to jump and fall elsewhere, usually right where you need him to be in the level.
Most levels have one of these additional monsters but some have more and you have to work with each of their strengths to complete the level. Cut the Rope 2 relies heavily on the monsters for the gameplay but there are some other mechanics as well. Some of the mechanics from the previous games are back, such as the blue whoopee cushion and the red balloons. There are some new ones as well, such as the magnets and wooden blocks. Those, however, form a small part of the gameplay and the focus is mainly on the monsters and their abilities.
Another change from the previous games is that Om Nom itself is no longer a static character. Although you can’t move him directly around, he can be pushed and tossed around by other objects around him. In fact, in several levels, you don’t get the candy to him but get him to the candy. Of course now, like the candy, he can also fall off a platform, in which case the level ends.The developers have found couple of other ways to get more gameplay out of the level. Other than simply finishing the level by collecting all three stars, there is a special medal to be achieved by completing specific objectives. It usually involves things like not taking the help of the other monsters or not using, say, the whoopee cushion in the level, or only collecting a certain number of stars. Do that and you get the medal for the level.
Another thing to do is collect the four-leaf clover found in some of the levels. These are usually placed out of reach and cannot be accessed normally. This is where you use one of the new balloon features. You can pull balloons out of the drawer in the bottom left corner of the screen and then attach it to Om Nom and make him float around till he reaches the clover. The balloons are limited in quantity and are counted even if you mess up and restart the level, so make sure you use them wisely. Get all the clover leaves for that chapter and you unlock an extra set of four levels for that chapter.
Cut the Rope 2 features a new hint system. Basically, you select the option from the drawer at the bottom and the game just spoon feeds you through the entire process, telling you what to do and where to swipe so you get all three stars in the level. It would have been nice if the hint system was a bit more subtle; sometimes, all you need is a nudge in the right direction and you can take it form there. This one just spills the beans entirely so there is little sense of achievement left after finishing the level.
Looking at the overall gameplay of Cut the Rope 2, I’m generally impressed by it. It maintains that balance of familiarity and newness that a good sequel should have. It also maintains the balance of accessibility and challenge, that makes the game challenging without testing your patience. It’s something that people of all ages can enjoy and this has always been the forte of Cut the Rope, so I’m glad the developers have managed to keep the tradition going.
Now we come to in-app purchases. Unfortunately, it has become nearly impossible to talk about a mobile game these days without talking about the IAP aspect of it. Yes, Cut the Rope 2 also has IAP, but thankfully, it’s not too bad. The biggest problem is with balloons, which are limited and once you run out you need to purchase more using IAP. These balloons are the only way to get the clovers, so if you want to complete the game 100% and access all levels and unlock all achievements then you may have to shell out for the balloons. The game does give them to you occasionally through the daily gifts that is available at the start of the game every day when you launch it for the first time but it’s not much.Other than that, none of the other stuff is particularly essential. You can buy additional hints (you only get three by default) for extra money. You can also purchase content such as caps for Om Nom, different shaped candy and even a Fruit Ninja style trace animation. You can just not get any of these and still manage to complete the game just fine.
Despite its relatively simple 2D visuals, Cut the Rope 2 looks absolutely stunning, especially on a Retina display. The visuals use vivid, gorgeous colors and superb animations. The game has adorable animations for all the monsters that are even more detailed than before. You can see Om Nom react to things around him as you interact with them. It elevates him from being a static character to being part of the proceedings. The physics are also believable and everything works the way you expect it to.
The sound is not hugely improved over its predecessor. The music is still nice and I especially liked the subtle sound effects for all the monsters. Nothing outstanding but overall pretty good, nonetheless.
Sequels are hard. You need to keep enough of the old to maintain familiarity while bringing in a lot of new to make it stand out from its predecessor. Thankfully, the developers of Cut the Rope 2 have managed to get this right and the game brings in enough new gameplay mechanics to keep fans of the series interested while maintaining the same great gameplay that we have come to expect from it. If you have enjoyed the previous Cut the Rope games, then you are bound to love this one.

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