GEX 2: Enter the Gecko
One of my all time favorite PSX games starred a little green gecko with a really big mouth. The game was a traditional 2D side scrolling platform game that followed every cliche in the book. The one thing that made it stand out was since you play as a gecko, you could climb just about any wall or surface around. You spent 90 percent of your time off the traditional ground. This, along with the wisecracks from Dana Gould, the voice of Gex, kept me playing until I defeated REZ and beat the game.
Here we are, some 2 years later and a lot of things have changed, but a few have not. What has changed is that you are no longer a 2D stick figure. GEX has graduated into the world of 3D. You are now sporting some of the coolest threads around instead of running around naked. Your path in life does not follow a typical 3D linear route, you are free to move about checking for the many secrets that lay hidden within the game. What has not changed is GEX's love for TV and REZ's love for causing trouble. It seems that REZ is back up to his dirty work and GEX has been, ahem, forcefully recruited to stop him again. It is up to you to find all of the remotes hidden throughout the worlds in order to confront and defeat REZ. Once again, the fate of the world is literally sticking to your back.
GEX 2: Enter the Gecko still follows along the same paths of a platform game but adds much more to help in the replay department. The game is broken up into a number of different worlds, each with its own theme, usually based on a TV show or movie from the past. It is up to you to maneuver GEX through the world to receive the remote control at the end of each world. After collecting the world's remote controls, another section will open up and you're off to collect the remotes from the new worlds. Sounds easy enough, and it really is easy if your only goal is to get the level remotes and move on. Fortunately, there is much more to do and see.
First off, I said that the game is made up of different worlds. Each world has at least one remote control to acquire by meeting the objective of the world, one remote that is obtained by collecting enough of the collectibles located throughout the world, and finally a hidden remote somewhere in the level. Each world has a number of objectives that must be achieved before you will be allowed access to the remote for the objective. For example, early on in the game, you will find yourself in the haunted house level. One of your objectives is to smash 5 blood coolers (they look like the big water coolers, only filled with blood). After smashing 5 of these, you can go to the exit and the remote will be waiting for you. You will then have to go back into the level and achieve 2 other objectives to get the two other objective remotes. This will keep you busy for quite some time in each world.
I also mentioned that you will get another remote control by obtaining enough of the collectibles in each world. Each world has three tiers of collectibles. You will collect 30 tier 1 collectibles and it will automatically switch to tier 2. After collecting 40 tier 2 collectibles, it will switch to tier 3. After collecting 50 tier 3 collectibles, you are rewarded with a secret silver remote. By obtaining all three silver remotes per level, you will open up a special bonus level. This would keep you from running from the beginning to end of the level just to get the objective remote.
Finally, you have to collect the secret remotes. These are remotes that are hidden in each level that you must search high and low to acquire them. These were the hardest to find and later in the game, I spent hours exploring levels just looking for the hidden remotes. At the end of each level, you are given a recap of the items you find and it tells you if you have found the secret remote for that world or not. This was quite helpful.
Now let's talk about GEX himself for a minute. For those of you who never played the original, GEX is a gecko. If you don't know what a gecko is, they somewhat resemble a lizard with suction feet allowing them to travel on just about any surface (unless you are a gecko playing this game... more in a minute). GEX has spent too much time in front of the TV, so just about everything he knows and says relates to the TV in some form or another. All of his one-liners are lines from or about TV show personalities or movies. This is one of the best parts of the game. You never get tired of hearing what he has to say. The game claims to have over 500 phrases, but I did find that they got repetitive quickly. It did not stop them from being funny, but you would just hear them over and over.
This also brings me to my first gripe about the game. It has been at least two years since the original title was released. Couldn't they have thought up all-new one-liners instead of recycling them from the original game? There were a few things that were carried over from the original game. Look, I heard them enough the first time around, so give me something new! That is not to say that there were not a lot of new ones, because there were. However, I just don't understand why they reused some.
The second complaint I had with the game is the troublesome camera. I guess all I need to say is that this is a 3D game and that should sum up the camera problems. Anyone who has logged time on a 3D game knows exactly what I am referring to. The camera seems to just miss the right angle which makes routine jumps and other actions nearly impossible. On the positive side, Crystal Dynamics has done some work to help curtail the problem. They give you three different levels of camera control and you can select the one that works best for your playing style. I found the semi-auto cam to work best on most levels because it gives you decent auto angles but you can also adjust it manually if the angle it picks is not satisfactory. There were times that it would take a few minutes to manually get the angle just right before making a big jump or something. I know this is an inherent problem in 3D games but it is still annoying.
The single most aggravating thing about this game is that they took the gecko out of GEX. In the original, it was rare that you would find a wall or surface that GEX was unable to climb. In this game, it is rare that you find a place that GEX can climb. They usually have one little wall or something per level just because they felt they had to have something, but it is a far cry from satisfactory. Like I said, one of the things that made the original so cool was your ability to climb just about every wall, floor, or ceiling. This ability has almost been completely stripped out of the game. Come on guys, do you remember the whole reason for using a gecko as the star character of the game?
GEX has some awesome 3D graphics. Everything is 3D from the intro screens to the ending scenes. Of course, 3D brings the camera problems, but it also really brings the characters to life. GEX looks, feels, and acts like a live creature. His movements are fluid, realistic and lifelike. The worlds were also well done. There was never any question about what you were looking at or where you were going.
In some ways I was a little let down by this game. I think that the whole point of GEX being a gecko was lost. Aside from this, though, the gameplay was fun and addictive. I found myself playing just one more level over and over. GEX is the ultimate smart-ass and you have to admire that. I think most people will get a kick out of this game and enjoy playing it for a long time. Platform fans will have to have the controller pried from their hands.