Fuzion Frenzy 2 Xbox 360
Published by Microsoft Game Studios
Developed by Hudson
Release Date: Out Now
One of the more underappreciated Xbox launch titles that didn't really get the credit it deserved was Fuzion Frenzy. Offering 40+ mini-games, quite a few of which were a lot of fun, the game offered a refreshing change of pace from the FPS and driving games that claimed most gamers' attentions in the early stages of the console's life. Of course the game came long before the advent of Xbox Live so the game was on offline experience only but it was entertaining enough and certainly a whole lot better than some of the mini-game collections such as Whacked! that followed.
Fuzion Frenzy 2, like its predecessor, offers 40+ mini-games that can be played either offline or online. From the main menu you'll have a choice of Main Battle and Online Battle. Choosing Main Battle will give you a choice of Tournament, Mini-Game Frenzy and Custom. All of these modes are pretty self-explanatory. Tournament allows you to pick one of the six available characters and take part in a tournament. Mini-Game Frenzy allows you to play and practice any mini-game you like. Finally Custom allows you to play a series of mini-games and you're able to choose what mini-games you want to play and the order in which to play them. If you select Online Battle from the main menu you'll be able to play either Ranked Matches or Player Matches, which are essentially unranked matches, for 2-4 players.
The game plays out as if it were a futuristic game show. There's even a rather tacky presenter by the name of DJ Varcanno who is irritating to say the least. The mode most people are going to spend their time with and the mode which is at the heart of the Fuzion Frenzy 2 experience is Tournament. Here, as we've already mentioned, you'll pick one of six available characters to play as. Next you'll select how many planets need to be dominated in order to win. You can select 2, 3, 4 or 5 planets with the more planets you select increasing the length of the Tournament. After some rambling from DJ, you'll get to choose which planet you'll play on first. There are seven planets in all: Earth, Blazer, Moisture, Amuseth, Eternite, Machina and Icicle. Each planet has its own environment and its own set of appropriately themed mini-games.
To dominate a planet you simply need to acquire the most points from the mini-games. On each planet you'll play three mini-games and finally a Battle Royale. Winners of each mini-game will receive power-ups that are used in the Battle Royale mini-games. For winning a mini-game you're given 10 points with second place earning 6, third place earning 4 and the final place earning just 2 points. To spice things up a little you're given (and in some cases can earn) Frenzy cards. Before each game you'll get to choose to play one of these modifying cards. There are cards to increase your score from a mini-game by 2x, 4x and 6x. There are choice cards that can give you the right to choose the next mini-game. Steel Point Effect Cards allow you to steal the score multiplying cards from another player. Reverse Multiplier Cards reverse the effect of a score multiplying card (instead of 4x for instance a score can be divided by 4). Finally Attack Chance Cards allow you to choose the next planet and you can even choose to attack a planet that has been previously dominated. These cards can swing the balance of the game quite significantly, perhaps too significantly for some, and it's very possible to come from behind to win just by playing the right card at the right time.
As with all mini-games collections the quality of the overall package is entirely dependent on the quality of the included mini-games. It's no good having slick presentation if the games you are going to be playing are stinkers. Whilst Fuzion Frenzy 2 might have the advantage over Fuzion Frenzy in that it fully supports online play, the quality of its mini-games are wildly inconsistent and range from good to poor. Sadly there are few games that could be classed as good, with most simply falling into the categories of mediocre and poor. The better games are usually ones that remind you of the mini-games from the original Fuzion Frenzy. Games such as Turbine Jumper and Sumo Clash, where you steer your spherical vehicle around a platform that becomes gradually smaller and the winner is the last one remaining, are practically identical to those found in Fuzion Frenzy. Games such as Over the Falls and Judgement Tower simply require you to press one of the primary buttons as they appear onscreen and feel rather uninvolving.
Graphically Fuzion Frenzy 2 looks OK and but like its predecessor it fails to take full advantage of the hardware it's running on and doesn't look as good as it would an Xbox 360 game to look. On the technical side of things the frame rate is rock solid throughout and the load times are respectable. The real problem that Fuzion Frenzy 2 has is not that the graphics don't look breathtaking but rather that the game has a rather generic appearance about it. There's no real personality here. Why not use characters from Microsoft's Xbox and Xbox 360 titles as playable avatars instead of characters that no one really cares about. They could have used the Master Chief from Halo, Joanna Dark from Perfect Dark Zero, Kameo. Even Blinx and Voodoo Vince and Conker would have been more interesting than Zak, Samson, Jet and the other bland characters that have been included here.
Fuzion Frenzy 2 does offer subtitles for DJ's comments but these are not enabled by default. You'll find the option to enable them in the options>volume menu. Whilst it's good to see the announcer's comments subtitled it's rather a shame that for the most part they are plain annoying and far too repetitive. Comments made by the other characters are not subtitled. To be fair this isn't much of a problem and they are usually just a taunt given out when a game has been won. All game instructions and controls descriptions are given out in text meaning you'll have no problems in understanding what needs to be done in any of the games. The game manual is also pretty useful and explains everything in regards to how to play the game.
Whilst Fuzion Frenzy 2 wasn't one of the most anticipated sequels on the Xbox 360 (at least not in the same way as Halo 3, PGR 3 and Forza 2), it was certainly a game that I was looking forward to and having played the game for over a week now I have to say I'm disappointed with the end result. Normally when a sequel is created by a different developer (Fuzion Frenzy was developed by Blitz Games) there is cause for concern but given the pedigree Hudson have for creating mini-game compilations, with the Mario Party games, you would be forgiven for thinking that Fuzion Frenzy 2 was in more than capable hands. Sadly though, Fuzion Frenzy 2 is disappointing. Even the addition of support for online play cannot elevate the game. If you're looking for a party game to play on the Xbox 360 then Fuzion Frenzy 2 might fit the bill but on the whole it's not as enjoyable as the original Fuzion Frenzy and could have been much better.
Whilst it's commendable that Fuzion Frenzy 2 takes the series online it's a shame that the overall quality of the game isn't as high as was expected. That said, if you're desperate to get your hands on a party game for the Xbox 360 there is some fun to be had here and it is reasonably priced at £29.99.