Posted on December 11, 2013 AT 05:57pm
Second verse, same as the first
Peggle 2 is more Peggle.
If I were allowed to have my entire review be no more than one line of text—and, technically, being executive editor, I might actually be allowed—I’d write that as my review, slap a score at the end, and call it a day.
It’s a statement of fact, one devoid of any positive or negative judgment, and it perfectly sums up what you’ll find if you spent the $12 to download Peggle 2. It’s more Peggle, in every sense of the word. It is not the rebirth of Peggle, or the death of Peggle, or the meteoric-rise-and-then-tragic-fall of Peggle, or Peggle’s crazy-yet-lovable cousin.
The question I struggled with—and still somewhat struggle with—is if that’s enough. Maybe it is. Peggle isn’t a grand story, one set around characters and narrative and things that can’t go on forever without wearing out their welcome. Nor is it based around gimmicks or elements that are enthralling and captivating at first, but which lessen the more you’re exposed to them. Peggle is about presenting a set style of challenge, and then tasking you to overcome it with skill (or luck). Peggle 2 says that it’s OK if you’ve beaten all the challenges it’s presented to you throughout its previous iterations—it has more for you to enjoy.
And, to be fair, Peggle 2 isn’t completely without the new. Joining the series’ hoofed mascot Bjorn are four new Peggle Master characters: the Big Lebowski–inspired troll Jeffrey, the happy-go-lucky yeti Berg, the clockwork-robot-riding gnome Gnorman, and the undead grade-schooler Luna. Each brings a new set of special abilities, and some of them—especially Berg’s—show some genuine sparks of creativity. Those Masters also bring with them new music, which will be a huge damned shock to any longtime Peggle player the moment they beat their first stage.
Yet, I also can’t help but feel that more just wasn’t enough. Playing through Peggle 2’s 60 standard stages and then working on conquering its additional 60 challenge stages, it took me very little time to remember why the game took so many players by storm. But something felt missing. As good as everything here is, I couldn’t shake the idea that, at this point, there should be something more. Maybe not even more—just different. Peggle 2 has new characters, new graphics, and new peg layouts, but nothing genuinely new. Nothing to show us that PopCap has a fire in their heart that burns with ideas of how to do something with Peggle that isn’t just more of the same. Nothing to fulfill the childlike enthusiasm displayed by PopCap co-founder John Vechey when he went onstage at EA’s E3 press conference, jumped into the air—fist outstretched—and yelled “Peggle 2!”
This Peggle 2 is more of a walk on stage, stand there awkwardly for a moment while you wait for your slide to load, do a half-turn to look at the big screen, look back at the audience, and—with an unapologetic-but-unenthusiastic shrug—say, “You know, Peggle 2.”
Now, there was something that felt fresh and unique about Peggle 2, but that was because I’d missed the mode in the series’ previous console outings. Multiplayer is a blast, and may be worth the price of admission alone. You hop online, join up in a room with up to three other people, and take turns seeing who can score the highest point total in a set amount of rounds. I’ve been in some fiercely competitive games, where scores fluctuated round to round and players who were just in fourth place suddenly shot up to first. It’s also here that your choice in character comes into play the most—and seeing what different players can do with each is part of the fun.
Sadly, multiplayer is online-only at the moment—an absolute crime, given how Peggle lends itself so well to families and friends getting together in the same room and competing with one another. A free download will be coming in the near future to fix this, but it’s something that should have been there from day one. (We now live in a “ship today, finish tomorrow” world, whether we like it or not, and that’s not something I’m happy about.) What does come included with Peggle 2’s multiplayer is some crazy lag at times. Thankfully, it typically only shows up after you’ve made your shot, so actual gameplay isn’t negatively affected. Still, it’s kind of shocking to see in a game like this.
With the exception of that technical issue, and the game’s way-too-overactive obsession with automatically recording gameplay moments when anything cool happens—seriously Peggle 2, it’s OK. I can say, “Xbox, record that” to record awesome moments; you don’t have to fill my hard drive with endless self-indulgence—there’s nothing genuinely wrong with Peggle 2. There’s nothing bad, nothing broken, nothing unenjoyable, nothing unpolished. There’s just also nothing truly different, nothing groundbreaking, nothing to make you feel like Peggle isn’t getting a little complacent and kind of taking your love for granted at this point. And, at this point, there’s also too much that’s missing that will either be coming later (like the previously-mentioned local multiplayer) or better be coming later (like leaderboards).
On the game’s home screen, there’s a little shop icon at the bottom that promises it’ll be “coming soon.” Maybe Peggle 2 is the way it is because it doesn’t need to be anything else. Or maybe PopCap simply isn’t sure what they should—or can—do to the game beyond providing more of what people already love. I don’t know if either of those or true, and—928 words later, as of this point—I still don’t know if Peggle 2 needed to be more than more. I do know that, deep in my heart, I fear that whatever is locked behind that unassuming little shop icon could potentially explain the game’s overall lack of “more” in a most unpleasant way.
|Developer: PopCap • Publisher: EA • ESRB: E – Everyone • Release Date: 12.08.2013|
Peggle 2 is more of what you’ve come to love about PopCap’s peg-busting puzzle franchise brought to Microsoft’s next-generation console. If all you want is more, then Peggle 2 will definitely please—but if you were hoping for something to really refresh the series after its previous outings, “more” may leaving you wanting, well, more.
|The Good||It’s more Peggle, and Peggle is a whole lot of fun.|
|The Bad||It’s more Peggle, and not much more than that.|
|The Ugly||My disappointment every time I finish a stage with a character other than Bjorn and Ode to Joy doesn’t play.|
|Peggle 2 is available as a timed exclusive on Xbox One.|
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