Neighbours from Hell 2 - On Vacation PC CD-ROM
by JoWooD Productions
Developed by JoWooD Vienna
Distributed by Bigben Interactive
Released - Out Now
Price : £14.99
Here at Deaf Gamers we like to see games that are innovative and as different from existing titles as possible. It's not a common occurrence though, sadly as it's more often than not an attack of the clones with FPS, RTS and RPG games looking similar to many that have gone before. Occasionally we do get a very nice surprise though and Neighbours from Hell was certainly one of these. You played the role of Woody who had to annoy his next door neighbour as much as possible by playing a multitude of tricks on him, without being seen of course. The game took place in the neighbour's home and the various levels took the format of a TV series with each level being an individual program in the series. The tricks had to please the audience and the real secret to success was to chain tricks together for greater amusement. It wasn't the longest game we'd ever seen but it was released at a great price (£19.99) and offered a lot of fun which is something you don't get a lot of in modern games. Here we have the sequel, Neighbours from Hell 2 - On Vacation, so let's see if the game can still be addictive as the original.
Neighbours from Hell 2 sees the action move away from the neighbour's home as this time they are on holiday. The first game was set completely in the neighbour's home (his actual name is Mr. Rottwiler) and different sections of the home became accessible as you progressed through the different levels. This time you'll get to carry out your tricks in a variety of locations and I suppose fans of the original game will appreciate this. Primarily in the first game the characters were simply Woody (our hero and the one you control) and his neighbour (and the neighbour's mother in later levels) but this time around you'll have a few different characters too such as the rather chest heavy Olga (with boobs bigger than basketballs), her son and other NPCs that you'll come across from time to time. Woody only need fear the neighbour and his mother though. The mother has her dog this time around but he can't signal his owner like the parrot could in the first game.
The developers have made some major changes to the game play this time around but whilst there have been some major changes it still feels just as good. Despite the rather comprehensive changes though the control has remained the same and it's still a comfortable point 'n' click game that even very inexperienced gamers will have not problems in mastering. The first thing you'll notice (if you have played the first game) is that the time limit has been done away with. Getting caught by the neighbour, or his mother, no longer means it's game over as you get three lives. The neighbour can now also get a thrashing, particularly from Olga, if one of your tricks affects them. You can't sneak anymore as the right mouse button is simply used to cancel orders. The ratings have gone too and each trick will earn you a coin. Objects can only be placed at certain locations and not anywhere on the floor. You can also earn what's known as a collapse bonus too.
On the left side of the screen there is an anger indicator for the neighbour. As you carry out tricks this meter will fill. Delays between tricks will cause the meter to fall so the idea is to string as many tricks together in as short a space of time as possible. Should the meter fill completely, which will involve stringing all the possible tricks in a level together as quickly as possible, you'll get a special bonus. Dexterity tasks have been added this time around. You'll first encounter this on the tutorial level where you have to pick a lock with a hairpin. The hairpin will try to move itself away from the centre and you'll have to push the mouse in the opposite direction in order to keep it centred. As you do this the background gauge will fill up and once filled you'll have completed the task. Dexterity tasks have to be completed as quickly as possible otherwise you'll be caught by the neighbour and lose a life unless you manage to flee in time that is. There are more time dependent tricks too and later in the game the tricks get more complicated.
We commented in our review of Neighbours from Hell that visually the game had a lot in common with the clay animation films of Nick Park such as Wallace and Gromit. Thankfully NFH2 has retained this fantastic look and overall the graphics have slightly improved over the original game (there wasn't anything wrong with them to be honest) and new animations have been added too. Once again the characters, apart from Woody have a repulsive look about them, which only serves to add appeal to the game. Olga is simply hideous and the fact that the, nowhere near handsome, neighbour fancies her and tries to impress her is humorous in itself. You don't even need a NASA specification PC to run the game and with recommended PC requirements of just a 500 MHz CPU (minimum is a 233MHz CPU with MMX) most PCs, including laptops, out there should have no problems at all.
Neighbours from Hell was very deaf gamer friendly and the same can be said for Neighbours from Hell 2. All dialogue and tutorial messages are delivered exclusively via text. All the feedback within the game is visual such as the thought clouds that show you what your neighbour is thinking about. Once again the only thing you'll be unaware of is the audience's laughter, it is a TV show after all, but this has no bearing on the game play whatsoever. We don't often mention music in a game here at Deaf Gamers but the music is so bass heavy that if you happen to have a decent subwoofer you'll be able to feel the beat of the music and it's quite good. Once again the manual is superb and fully explains the various game play concepts. The manual is just over 40 pages long and makes good use of screen shots to illustrate what it is talking about.
In closing then we have to say that we have been just as impressed with Neighbours from Hell 2 as we were with Neighbours from Hell. The multitude of changes and the different locations have helped the game feel fresh and it doesn't simply come across as a rehash. Once again it's not the longest game out there but in order to complete the game fully, with all the gold collapse awards, it's going to take some doing. We also have to comment on the price of the game. It's retail price is £14.99, which is fantastic in itself, but my local Game are selling it for £9.99 and a stupidly low £7.99 from Play which is outrageously cheap. At these prices it's an absolute must. Here's hoping that number 3 is in production.
Game Rating: 9.0/10
Neighbours from Hell 2 is everything a sequel should be and retains it's excellent game play whilst making some fundamental changes. It may not be the longest game out there but at the asking price it's great value for money and the whole experience just leaves you wanting another sequel.
Superb for deaf gamers.