What a Croc(k)...
Me Croc. All Croc can make is squeeky-squeeky sounds with grammar BAAAD English subtitles. Croc from Land of Misfit Characters. Nobody want Croc. *sniff* At least Croc pals with elf who wanna be dentist and guy name Jar Jar. We be in-de-pen-dent! But that elf be BAAAD dentist--that why me only have one tooth. Parents no want Croc, so Croc raised by hairballs called Gobbos. They good to Croc, but their home schooling no hay es bueno a mi. That's why me talk foolish. Croc one day found bottle with footprint like mine. Now Croc go on adventure, look for hateful parents on an island. After Croc find BAAAD parents, Croc make them buy me new gold tooth and get English lesson.
Let's take a moment to ponder the history of the console platform game. Back in the day, the 8 bit Super Mario Brothers was fun because people had never really experienced the thrill of moving a digital counterpart from left to right. The new fangled idea of "side-scrolling" was fun because it gave them a cool way to discover a new world.
Soon after, many side-scrollers were made, though most were commercially licensed pieces of crap. As the years went by, technology hit puberty and spawned the new kind of side scroller, one that incorporated 3-D environments. The good 3D games give you an expansive landscape filled with secrets waiting to be found. In these games, the idea of the digital counterpart still holds true. Unfortunately, the need to make a quick buck with shoddy licensed games also still exists. Case in point: Croc 2.
Croc 2 tries to come off as allowing full exploration, but it follows more of a straight path construct than most 3D platformers, like in the Crash Bandicoot games. The largest free range environment is the hub of the game, equivalent to Mario 64's castle or Zelda's Hyrulian fields. In comparison, Croc's hub doesn't give that feeling of exploration. There are Gobbos scattered about in front of doors. Each of them has lost something or other. You open the door and help. The levels are, as a sum total, larger then the hub, but because you are set for most of the level on linear tracks with intermittent free range, that immersive element is just missing.
Control is loose. The jumping (and there's a lot of it) doesn't feel very intuitive. When you play a good action game with tight controls, you quickly get the hang of jumping and knowing where you will land. In Croc 2, there's always this feeling of second-guessing and frustration. This holds true even in the attacks - the tail swipe and the butt stomp. You have this little stub of a tail; when you swipe, it doesn't even look like you hit the enemy, yet it still explodes. And the butt stomp is basically only good for breaking boxes, because of a strange delay at the apex of the jump.
Some of the other abilities that you have are pretty useles. There's the side-step command, far too slow and minute to pose any use. Then, there's the "view" command, which requires binoculars. When you use them, you see only out of a small hole on the screen, and you don't even get a full turning radius. These two moves are basic standards of this genre and they couldn't even get them right.
In order to make some special jumps, you have to buy a certain amount of name brand candy (I'd specify it, but I don't want them getting any more advertising. Oh hell...Gummi Savers). Argh! Give me a break - as if this game wasn't cheap enough already. Product placement in sports games makes sense, because in real life, ads are placed on the field by those clever marketers. But in the case of Croc 2, it's just a cheap and forced marketing ploy. And because of the young audience that this game is aimed at, little kids will want that candy, thinking they'll be able to jump like Croc. Ugh.
The camera is lousy. Let's say you want to jump, but first you want to take a few steps backwards. When you walk towards the screen, the camera awkwardly does a full 180 and you're left somewhat confused. Sometimes when you jump, the camera spins around you. Intelligent camera systems, such as in Zelda and Ape Escape, place the camera at the right distance, so a slight turn won't be disorientating and a few steps backwards can be done without screwing you up. Even in the early games like Mario 64, the camera adjusting became a learned part of the game. Simply put, Croc 2's camera dropped out of 3-D Camera University a few years too soon.
This game also contains one wacky health system. You get one life, with a set amount of increments that can be built up higher. When you fill up your health past that amount, you get another life. But I couldn't find a place that said I gained another life. Giving the game such a cheap death system doesn't increase the difficulty - it increases the frustration. Difficulty drives you to play more. Frustration drives you to create a new black bottomed coaster for your drinks.
The graphics are nothing to write home about, either. Croc 2 doesn't look like much of an advancement over the first Croc , which at the time could hold its own. Same old, same old, with a freshness date that looks somewhere between second and third generation Playstation games - when we're already on fifth and sixth generation. There are noticeable seams in the characters and environment objects. There appears to be a limited amount of textures to draw from, making every location look too similar. Framerate isn't high enough, causing the game to lack smoothness. Even the bitmaps for items and character faces have rough edges, with a low resolution look.
Music wise, don't expect anything more than the standard action game drivel. There is an island / beach atmosphere to most of the music, but they're all repetitious tunes, looped for your discomfort. It ranges from generic to bad. The voices resemble the annoying chattering from Banjo Kazooie. While I did like Banjo, I never really caught on to those little animal sounds in the game. Well, they're worse here. "Squeeky-squeeky-squeek"… and everyone speaks in the 3rd person, in some pigeon English. The cute factor wears thin very fast. Croc is truly one little misfit.
Straight up, this is a sub-standard 3-D environment game, lacking originality and fun, looking to catch the little kids with its high cute factor. If you want an action game, this isn't the place to look.