There are almost two-hundred Xbox Live Arcade games on the Marketplace. Some are original and fresh, while others are ports or remakes. For some, buying an XBLA game is easy because they have to have them all, while for others, it’s a tough choice. Take a chance on a game that you have never heard of and you could possibly get burned, or you can play it safe with a game you are familiar with. Luckily, there are demos you can download to help make that decision. However, even after completing the demo, you still might be up in the air about spending between ten and twenty bucks on a game and Exit 2 is one of those cases. After completing the demo I was left wanting more.
Mr. ESC is back as he is charged with the duty of saving innocents, as that is what his job is as an Escape Contractor. If you have played the original, then you know how to play Exit 2. Nothing has changed. If you weren’t fortunate enough to play the first, learning this game is a snap, as it comes with a tutorial that teaches you every aspect of the game.
As Mr. ESC, you go into different situations to help get trapped civilians (and sometimes, dogs) out of them. In all there are 22 regular situations (which range from a subway on fire to a sinking ship) and three XBLA original stages, and each one contains ten levels. So if you do the math there are 250 levels plus the ten training levels, which gives you 260 levels of innocent saving fun, and it’s not as easy as you might think. Starting out, things are pretty basic. Save civilians, get to the exit and jump over the occasional hazard, but as you get into the level two and greater situations, the game gets substantially more difficult as there are more people to save and more objects you have to use in order to save them and get to the exit in the allotted time.
Controlling Mr. ESC is simple. The left analog stick moves the hero, pressing the R-Bumper while moving makes him run. If you need to ascend some stairs, press up on the left stick when near the stairs, and do the opposite when wanting to go down the stairs. Those directions work with any object you need to climb up or down on. The A button allows you to jump and if you want to jump further, just get a running start. As you save civilians, you will need to control them as well. All you do to save them is walk by them, they will then follow you. If you want them to stay put, hit the L-Bumper, and hit it again for them to follow you. If you want them to pick up an item, move the arrow with the right analog stick onto them, hit the Y-button to select the person then move the arrow again to the item and hit Y. If any of this sounds overwhelming, don’t fret, learning the controls in Exit 2 is simple (just do all the tutorial levels and you will be ready to save the world!) and crucial as you will need to constantly use the people you save to help get everyone safely to the exit.
In all, there are six different companions each with their own strengths and weaknesses. There are the young (which Mr. ESC is classified as) which don’t need any help getting around, but they can’t swim. The Kid needs help getting over objects and cannot move boxes but can crawl through very small spaces. The adult can push large boxes alone but can’t climb high obstacles alone. You will need two young to lift an adult. The Macho, which are more powerful than the adult but have poor horizontal jumping abilities and, unlike Mr. ESC, can climb up a rope. They also can’t crawl but can pull up civilians by themselves. The Dog has good leaping power, can go through narrow passages and is the only companion who can swim, but they can’t use items or climb ropes or ladders. Finally The Patient which is a wounded civilian who cant move and needs to be carried. They can’t be carried by a Dog or a Kid and when being carried, obstacles can’t be climbed and ladders and ropes cannot be used.
As great as the tutorial is, it doesn’t help the problematic AI, which is the only downfall of Exit 2. Like the first game, the AI can be either really smart or really dumb, and typically they are relatively smart when they are the only one to save. When there is more than one, having them both follow you can be a chore. An example of this is in Situation 2, I needed to save an Adult and a Dog. Now both of them, if they are on the same floor as Mr. ESC will follow you perfectly no matter where you go. The problem I ran into more often than not is when the Adult and I were one floor below the Dog and the only way for him to get to us is by using an escalator, which they can usually us without any issues. Well, the escalator was to the left of where the dog was so I figured if I walk to the left, the dog will also walk to the left and when he gets to the escalator he will come down it. Nope, he just kept walking to the left. So how is it that when you and the companions are on the same floor, they will use stairs and the like just fine, but when on one floor above or below you, they get completely stupid? It makes things more frustrating then need be.
My only other complaint I have with the game is that it doesn’t add anything new. Exit 2 shouldn’t have been made; instead, this game should have been DLC for the original. A game like Exit doesn’t really need to be made into a sequel but just begs for more levels via download. Thankfully you still do get your moneys worth with Exit 2. Like I said earlier, there are 200+ levels in this game, with each getting harder as you progress and forcing you to play some of the levels more than once, because if you make a mistake in some of the later levels, you have to start over. So pay attention and learn form those mistakes.
I wouldn’t say that making Exit 2 a sequel was a mistake because the first one was an incredible game, as is this one. With easy to learn controls and a ton of levels to play through, this sequel is worth the price of admission. Some players may be disappointed that these levels were not offered as DLC for the original game, but when you break it down they would have likely not come in at this price anyways. So if you can’t get enough of Mr. ESC, or haven’t had the pleasure of partaking in his first adventure, do yourself a favor and pick up Exit 2; you will not be let down.