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Platforming bliss stumbles onto the Cube in the unlikely for of Vexx!
Yes my friends ZT is finally going to review a platformer, for the past 6 months or so I have yet to lay my opinion down on any of the greats. Sly Cooper, Ratchet and Clank, StarFox, Mario, the list goes on and I have yet to talk about any of them other than in rants. Today I am bringing you the low down on Acclaim's newest mascot Vexx. Developed for XBox, GameCube, and Playstation 2 Vexx is a platformer and nothing else. Some people will go into expecting an action game or possibly even an adventure game with some nifty story elements and will find none. This will in turn leave them feeling let down and scoring the game less than what it deserves. Platformers have been here for years and no one seems to appreciate them for what they are, everyone always wants innovations and ground breaking ideas. Honestly I don't think there is much we haven't seen but one thing is for sure it has been a hell of a long time since I played a game that was this challenging, this fun, and this addictive. With that in mind I delve into Vexx!
The World We Live In The most important aspect in designing a platform game is level design, you need to entice the player as well as challenge them without confusion. Vexx pulls this off damn near flawlessly, the levels are large and full of all the elements that make a platform game great. Not making them too confusing or overbearing was the most important part and Acclaim executed it perfectly. The Cube version does suffer from minor slowdown, this in NO WAY hinders the gameplay but I thought I would mention it. It also lacks the visual touches found in the XBox version such as sharper textures and of course everyone's favorite term "bump mapping". Even with these minor shortcoming Vexx's world is still gorgeous, great water effects, superb lighting, and just an overall sense of exploration that most platformers fail to capture. The enemies are very inspiring and I must mention that this game has the absolute best title screen in the history of videogames.
Symphony Of Destruction The music in Vexx had to be composed by the same team that did Turok, the music is just so epic in scale. The piano melodies have me humming along constantly and the overall ambience it delivers is excellent. The sound effects are a bit on the generic side but we can live with that. Uninspired hacks and slashes get a bit repetitive after a few hours and the enemies screaming in agony can wear on the nerves at times. The voice acting (what little there is of it) fits the mood of the game nicely. All of this presented in Cube fashion of course Dolby Pro Logic II, which I might add still sounds really good on the right setup.
Talons Of Justice The storyline of Vexx is pretty cut and dry, you are a slave that loses your grandfather so like any good kin you vow revenge on his murderer. Picking up Vexx for the first time is simple, putting it down is where the difficulty comes in. The game challenges you like no other platformer since Maximo. Some of the objectives seem impossible at first yet keep you coming back time and time again to see if you can perfect that one jump. This is what makes a great platform game, keeping the player interested and challenged is a feat most games attempt and fail miserably. Each objective is disguised in riddle when entering a world, solve the riddle and earn the heart sounds simple right? The game is broken up into worlds and each world contains ten hearts to collect, two of them are gathered from standard collecting aspects and the other eight are unique to each level for example in the Tempest Peak Manor stage you actually have to turn on a giant game console and bust out some classic Breakout. It's challenges like these that make this game so unique and fun.
The traditional platforming levels can seem overwhelming at first such as the Ebony and Ivory stage where you must climb to the top of a musical style stage. This brings out the platforming maniac in me like the classic stages in Mario Sunshine did, although I have to say that Vexx throws more of a challenge at you than SMS did. The combat system is pretty straight forward, you can perform combos which fill up your rage meter. Once full you can unleash your special talon attacks upon enemies. You can also obtain power ups in certain levels to make you stronger, faster, as well as giving you the ability to fly. These power ups are limited by time and are required to complete certain objectives. Vexx doesn't bring anything new and fresh to the table but what it does do is execute everything that makes a platformer great and damn near flawlessly.
The End Of The Beginning In closing I have to say that Vexx is a game that will hit bargain bin quite quickly simply because the lead character doesn't wear a plumbers outfit or perhaps the marketing muscle is not behind it. This is sad because to me this is the best platform game to come along in years. The challenge it brings and the reward you feel for accomplishing the tasks it delivers are unmatched by any other in it's field. I cannot stress enough how much this game impressed me and you can definitely tell this game was designed with the hardcore platform junkie in mind. Crafted to excellence by a group of talented game designers. Highly Recommended!