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[Hands-on] Good and evil do not exist in Epic Mickey 2

8/19/12 7:40pm

As a big fan of the first Epic Mickey, I was pretty excited that I'd get a chance to sit down with Warren Spector at Gamescom and check out the sequel that promises to fix everything wrong with the original game. And it does.

For one, the camera now does a better job following you around and showing you exactly what you need to see. Coupled with the tightened controls, this makes for a much better platforming experience than in Mickey's first trip to the wasteland, where jumping could feel a bit floaty and imprecise at times.

Another issue many people had with the original game was figuring out where to go. This has been remedied by having your Gremlin companion Gus teleport around the stages and act as a waypoint for your main quest. It's simple, unobtrusive and it works.

A lot of attention has been dedicated to the morality system which has been expanded quite a bit. Once again you can shape the world around you by shooting it with either paint or thinner and thanks to the heavily improved graphics engine (I played the PS3 version, by the way) you now have a lot more freedom over what to erase and what to fix. This leads to you having a much bigger impact on the world this time around and the developers really tried to get the most out of this by constantly giving you choices on how to proceed.

For example, in the demo I played I had to collect batteries to power up a train. I didn't have to collect all of them, but the more I got the easier the next section of the game would be. However, to get some of the additional batteries I'd have to knock over a huge water tower and demolish a house - quite a price to pay, even though the game doesn't really reprimand you when you go crazy with the thinner (or paint, for that matter).

In fact, Warren was pretty adamant about the game being all about what YOU consider to be morally right or wrong - there's no good/evil dichotomy in the game (quote: "We're leaving that to Bioware and Peter Molyneux.") All actions in the game have consequences, and all of them can perceptively either be "good" or "bad". The game also relentlessly autosaves, so once you've made a decision, you won't be able to change it. Everything you do will have a butterfly-effect on the rest of the game, by altering the environment and giving you even more different choices. The developers estimate that you'll need at least 3 playthroughs to see everything.

Epic Mickey 2 vastly improves upon the original game and takes the concept of morale to a new level. It's beautiful, huge, deep and pretty much what a good sequel should be. Some players might be put off by the lack of clear-cut good/evil paths, but everyone else should have a blast returning to the Wasteland, especially with the improved controls, camera and full voice acting including the occasional musical. You heard me.

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