Colourful. Thats how you can sum up de Blob 2 in a single word. If you wanted to go further you could easily add words such as bouncy, easy, pretty, lengthy and child-friendly and get a fair idea of what to expect. De Blob 2 follows on from the original game and casts you as the imaginatively named “Blob”, battling against Comrade Black as he sucks all of the colour out of the world.
And so you start your journey with a first level that acts as a tutorial of sorts, breaking you gently into the control methods and teaching you about absorbing paint, spreading it about the place and whatever add-ons are available. The first thing you’ll find is just how tricky it is to control Blob and the camera at the same time. Using the common dual-stick control method makes learning to jump about the place very easy indeed but the default camera controls are pretty poor, and you’ll need to dip into the controls to change sensitivity, invert axes and so on. But get this sorted and you’ll instantly feel at home moving around the landscape spreading colour onto buildings, trees, hills and anything else you can reach. Doing so sends colour sweeping through whatever you’ve touched, bringing your surroundings to life in a beautiful manner. Considering this series started life on the Nintendo Wii, the PS3 version we played looked gorgeous in HD with vibrant colours and a great sense of depth to the levels.
As you collect some of the power-ups available your plain colours become patterns which get more elaborate and funky as you collect more and more pickups. Not only that, but the more you paint the more the soundtrack picks up making each level an enticing blank canvas that rewards your every move. That’s not to say the entire game is just you rolling around painting stuff, far from it. You’ll have objectives to achieve, involving saving Greydons by splashing them with colour or painting certain buildings in the right way. Many of these challenges involve you having to get quite high up, finding the right route to the top by jumping up buildings, across gaps and over obstacles. It occasionally gets tricky, but every step of the way your invisible hand is holding onto you and giving you a useful but of guidance to help you along. Annoyingly this happens pretty much all of the way through the game which makes it a great game for inexperienced or younger gamers but for those of you who have been gaming for a bit longer it becomes a bit patronising.
Levels are timed too, with a countdown timer ticking away intended to put more pressure on you carrying out your tasks quickly, but in reality you’ll find this timer is more than generous, and even the more sluggish player will be finishing levels with plenty of time to spare. Once the main objectives are complete the timer disappears, giving you unlimited time to plod around the levels (some of which are huge) making sure everything has been coloured in, every little guy has been un-greyed and to give you a chance to take in your artwork from a high vantage point. It’s a refreshingly laid back experience, but one that admittedly starts to get quite samey after the first few levels.
Luckily, later levels mix things up a bit with various fixed camera angles giving you some different types of challenge to try, and you’ll even have some gravity-defying sections which mix things up a bit and add some variety. You’ve also got a couple of local multiplayer options in case you want some fun with the kids, but again these are a bit of a mixed bag.
The main campaign offers drop-in co-op play, with the first player controlled Blob and having the main control of the camera. The second player (who can use the standard controller or PS Move) has a small cursor which can shoot paint at objects to colour them in whichever hue Blob is currently carrying, which sounds like quite a cool idea and certainly helps get to the tricky areas, but when playing with the controller turns into a very tricky task when the camera is moving and swinging around as a result of player 1’s movements. Kids will enjoy shooting paint with the Move, but otherwise it’s just too awkward. The split-screen mode works far better though, pitching players against each other to see who can colour the most trees in the time provided, or other such tasks. It’s a good laugh and definitely the better of the two multiplayer options.
Overall De Blob 2 is a well made, fun and bright game that will suit a pretty wide audience. Newer and younger gamers will appreciate the lower than average difficulty and regular pointers, and yet more experienced players might appreciate having something a bit more relaxing to dip into between sessions of Killzone 3 and LA Noire. As I wrote this review I had a score of 7 fixed in my head, with a few marks lost for the slightly wonky camera controls, samey gameplay and frustrating co-op experience. But shop around and you can pick up De Blob 2 for under a tenner, and ten pounds for a game as great looking and child-friendly as this makes it a much more appealing prospect. If you’re paying full price, knock a point off.