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Endless Ocean: Blue World game review



C’mon in: The water’s fine in this newest version of Endless Ocean.

Want to go deep-sea diving? How about getting up close to a massive whale and its one-month-old calf? Even if you’re a licensed diver, you’ll enjoy the underwater adventures and the attention paid to detail in Endless Ocean: Blue World.

ENDLESS OCEAN: BLUE WORLD
Nintendo for Wii, Rated E10+ for Everyone 10 and Older

Graphics: 8.5
Gameplay: 8.0
Sounds: 7.0
Replay Value: 8.0
Overall Score: 8.0
Pros: Good story line and quests, multiplayer via WiFi connection, tons of sea creatures.
Cons: Characters don’t talk via audio, just text; petting wild animals such as bears makes it seem unreal; not enough weird undersea creatures.
Official Web Site: www.endlessocean.com

You’ll like Blue World even if you didn’t care for the first version of this game. That’s because Blue World is not just about exploring the sea and its creatures (which is pretty cool in itself). It’s about completing quests and becoming involved in a story that’s almost as deep as the ocean is blue.

GETTING YOUR FEET WET

Before you can begin, you have to complete a system update. This takes longer than usual, about five minutes. But then you’re ready to jump in.

Right away, you’re introduced to the sea during a scene at a long wooden dock leading to a tropical island. You hear the soft splashing of the sea. Then you hear a kind of sappy opening song sung a little too seriously. Thankfully, it doesn’t last long.

As you watch the opening, you discover an undersea building. Who knows? Maybe it’s part of the lost city of Atlantis. You’re also introduced to tough Captain Louvier, who reveals that he can no longer dive because he got a bad case of the bends during an adventure. It’s a warning to you that the sea is not always kind to adventurers.

You also meet Oceana, the captain’s cute daughter. This independent-minded girl will be your undersea guide during expeditions. You’re also asked to customize your character, but there’s not much here. Choose male or female, skin color and a couple of facial features. That’s about it.

The captain and Oceana tell you about the mysterious Song of Dragons, bit by bit. As you journey to solve the mystery, you go from coral reefs to the rivers of the Amazon filled with sharp-toothed piranhas. In the Arctic, you find penguins and polar bears you can pet. In the distant Pacific, a scientist helps you find Okeano’s Treasure.

Unfortunately, you must read the characters’ words and scroll through the text with the ‘A’ button. But you get used to it pretty quickly. It’s the diving that you want to be exciting, and it really is.

DIVING IN

What’s it like to dive? It’s pretty easy. The game starts you off much the same way a real-life instructor would if you were just starting out in open water. The water’s no deeper than 13 feet. You see a magical paradise full of tropical fish, some a few inches, some a couple of feet long.

To check out a fish, point your Wii remote at one and press ‘A’ to focus in on, say, a goby or clown fish. Press ‘A’ again, and you get a pretty detailed story about the species, including some cool trivia.

You can feed and touch some of them, too. (Some don’t want to be fed or touched, though.) You have useful tools at your disposal, including the Pulsar device, which helps you cure sick creatures and slow the more aggressive ones that might come after you. The Underwater Pen lets you mark locations in case you need to go back and search more carefully. With the Camera, take and save pictures of any of the 300 forms of wildlife you encounter.

Eventually, you’ll come upon a smart dolphin. You’ll be able to teach the mammal tricks and marvel at his jumping. Then you can latch on to his fin for some super-fast swimming. (You can also latch onto the whale at the beginning of game.)

You can explore these new worlds with a friend via your WiFi broadband connection. And since the game comes bundled with the WiiSpeak microphone, you can chat as you check out the reefs and caves.

ON A QUEST

It’s the story and quests that keep you curious. What is that underwater civilization all about? (You’ll eventually check it out. Just don’t run out of air in the maze of ruins.) And what’s the meaning of those coins that you find along the way?

Of course, the aquatic lover in you will constantly check out the various rays, sea turtles and more.

As you complete your quests, you’ll level up and be able to dive deeper into the sea. You might even see an oarfish or a 30-foot-long giant squid, something real-life scientists rarely find. This beast has giant eyes, the biggest of any living animal on the planet. I won’t tell you the trouble he gets into. It’s pretty awesome, though.

Be careful of that shark. Swim away as fast as you can if he decides to head your way.

As you root around underwater, you’ll come across salvage items. Keep them and take them to a trader named Nancy on Nineball Island, your home on land. In exchange, you’ll get new wetsuits, masks and the like.

Finally, Endless Ocean: Blue World has a nice price. Compared to other Wii games, it’s about $10 less. If you’re willing to take a chance on a game that isn’t full of crazy action every second, you’ll be rewarded with a truly memorable experience.

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