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Previews

Tak and the Guardians of Gross - PS2 - Preview

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Posted by: jkdmedia

Tak may not be a plumber, hedgehog or bandicoot, but his magical powers, cool levels and fun gameplay made the series a hit when its first game debuted a few years ago. We’ve seen many action/adventures come and go since that time, and Tak has proven that he knows how to last. This fall he’ll return for one more PS2 adventure: Tak and the Guardians of Gross.

Players of the previous Tak titles (or any action/adventure, for that matter) will feel right at home playing Guardians of Gross. Based on what’s available in this preview (near-complete?) build, it’s safe to say that each level follows one set path. There are a few branching points, but you’ll travel down one path to reach the end of each stage. This limits the world exploration aspect but has been entertaining thus far, and should prove to be a hit with fans of Crash Bandicoot’s linear level designs.

Tak’s mechanics are instantly accessible, offering the usual lineup of moves (double-jumps, a single aerial attack, etc.) and controls that are very smooth. Even more impressive is how the game introduces different kinds of play styles. During one stage, Tak can use his magical powers to roll himself into a ball of green goo. This ball is sticky and can traverse sticky areas that couldn’t be crossed otherwise. (Without the ball, Tak’s body would get stuck and couldn’t move.) It also allows him to climb walls – when the appropriate amount of sticky substance is already attached to the wall, of course.

When Tak isn’t rolling himself into green goo he’ll use his magic wand to solve basic level puzzles. These are essentially stage switches that, when activated with the wand by pressing and holding the triangle button, will allow you to pass. Their visuals keep this aspect from drifting into boredom. Tak’s magic may be used to remove boulders, align a set of pillars or trigger some other effect that’s much more interesting than the typical lock-and-key presentation.

Rayman Raving Rabbids must have been inspiring to Tak’s developers, because Guardians of Gross includes new on-rails shooter stages. They’re exactly what most players will expect: you’re in a vehicle, trying to leave an area while shooting specific targets and enemies as they approach.

But while Guardians of Gross is by most accounts another familiar game in the Tak series and another take on familiar action/adventure gameplay, there is one level feature that helps it stand apart from Sonic, Mario Galaxy and other genre greats. In fact, you might even say it has more in common with Shadow of the Colossus than either of those games.

This time around, Tak is introduced to several over-sized and over-the-top boss levels. These levels are not the same as a boss battle. Rather, they are giant Earth-toppling beasts that have levels inside of them. Before entering the first beast, the game shows you what he looks like from the outside – big, overbearing and uncommonly organic. His Earthy tones and plant-like form let you know that he very well could have sprouted from the ground.

Once inside, his body looks like any other level, albeit with a shaky camera that moves in line with the beast’s movements. It’s a jerky and jarring effect that could make some players a little sick to their stomachs. Whether or not the camera will be toned down before the game is released is anyone’s guess. Perhaps a better solution would be to offer a camera stabilizing feature that lets sensitive players reduce or completely turn off the shake; that way, players who don’t suffer from motion sickness can still enjoy these unique levels the developers were trying to produce.

Tak and the Guardians of Gross looks to re-create the fun of the previous Tak games while introducing new level features to get excited about. More surprises await the final version, including a new playable character. Stay with GameZone for more on Tak leading up to its release and beyond.

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