Review by Dreamwinder

"Thank God it was Only a Dream"

Tak 2: The Staff of Dreams is the continuation of the mildly successful Tak and The Power of Juju. Although not without charm, this game is sorely lacking in all possible areas. I've played the original myself, but to be fair, I am reviewing this as if I never had.

The graphics in Tak 2 could pass for stylized, if it weren't for their glitchiness. THQ attempted to create a cartoonish world full of animals, magic, and elaborate backdrops. Unfortunately, although this concept is not what I would call bad, it doesn't deliver much either. The worlds are made up of a linear path through somewhat stereotyped locals, such as swamps, jungles, and "The Dream World." The creative elements of all these places are evident, but because of the nature of the camera angles, and shape of the path, it often feels claustrophobic. When this isn't the case, it's usually because you're on a thin branch above a bottomless pit, wishing it were cramped again. The textures and overall quality of the graphics themselves are very 2001, and animations are prone to eraticness. Although the cut scenes in between levels are fairly well done, the amount of time between them takes away what they give to the game.

Audio is, well, present. The sound effects, although cartoony, make the player feel downgraded in intelligence. A collection of twangs, bumps, bongs and an occasional yell make up the girth of the effects. When the animation gets jumpy, so do their corresponding effects. The sound you will hear most is that of your club/weapon hitting an enemy on the head. It doesn't sound so much like a hit as it does like a whooshing of air followed by a minuscule thud. The voice acting is at best adequate, although the voice of Jebulba is very well done and entertaining. The music that accompanies the core of the game maintains the cartoonish feel and tone of the setting, but could greatly use a raise in production quality.

The gameplay, sadly, doesn't make up for the shortcomings of graphics and audio. Unlike most adventure games, there is not central "hub" level. The game is just a string of levels, and those levels are 100% linear. Although puzzles are fairly common, the main activity of the game is beating up enemies. Your main opponents are warriors of a strange tribe called Woddies. They come in four forms, warriors, shaman, a large pig like creature, and catapults. Warriors and catapults can be dealt with fairly quickly, as can the large pig-beasts, once you get good, but the shaman can regenerate fallen enemies besides being able to throw energy balls at you. This often creates great frustration when you quickly destroy a large number of enemies, only to discover, to late, a shaman on a platform above you, who regenerates whatever you already managed to do. The puzzles aren't hard, but levels string them together as one long challenge set, increasing in difficulty over the course of what seems like endless levels. Near the end of levels, these puzzles become incredibly frustrating, not because they are difficult, but because they take a while to complete and one small mistake causes you to do it all over again. As I said, the levels are extremely long. You will often find yourself saying "what, there's more?" after completing a long puzzle only half way through. When you beat it, the feeling is not one of accomplishment, but relief. The story is not without inventiveness. I won't spoil it, but let's just say there is a particular cut scene that makes fun of The Wizard of Oz, and I found it very amusing. The main draw of the game is comedy, and this is done marginally well, but this comedy is really only in he cut scenes, which you run into once in every half our of play.

This game has a lot of good ideas, and had great potential. Whether due to a rushed release or lack of funding, it just couldn't pull it all together. If you want a good adventure game, look elsewhere. If THQ decides to do another sequel, and gives it their full support, they may just have a great game on their hands. For now, though, Tak just seems generic.

Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 12/01/04

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