For the sequel to the slightly underwhelming Blinx: The Time Sweeper, Artoon has made a bizarre and potentially controversial decision.|
They've gotten rid of the title character.
You do not actually play as Blinx in Blinx 2: Masters of Time & Space. Instead, you'll be playing as a custom-made cat, with a fully customizable name and appearance, as a rookie member of the Time Sweepers. Your job is to gather up stray Time Crystals and get them back to base.
Alternatively, you can also play the game as a member of the Tom-Tom Gang, the "masters of space" from the subtitle, and the pigs that Blinx fought in the first game.
When you start a game as either party, you begin by customizing the lead member of your character's team. You can change its name, the group's name, and virtually every facet of its appearance. If you want a cat with an enormous head, little bitty feet, and an outfit that looks like a Hawaiian shirt threw up, Blinx 2 has you covered. You are capable of committing crimes of fashion or designing new and stylish outfits and flags. (Personally, whether cat or pig, I prefer bad, basic black. There's a reason it's a classic.)
Once you're kitted out (...oh good lord, no pun intended, I swear), your new team of Time Sweepers or gangsters is sent into the field. If you're playing as the cats, the action will be familiar to you; it's the action from Blinx, but with at least 50% less suck.
The cats are still out to collect time crystals, which are a scarce and highly sought-after commodity. However, the new Time Sweepers are a lot faster on their feet than Blinx ever was, and more importantly, the time crystal system's been streamlined. You can still pause, slow, rewind, stop, or fast-forward time, just as in the first game, but this time, you earn the ability to do so from crystals you get by defeating time monsters. You don't have to worry about what order you get the crystals in.
Each time crystal is a one-shot item that lets you mess with the flow of time. A Rewind crystal can repair broken items like switches or bridges, while a slow crystal effects everything around you. One early puzzle requires you to slow down time, so you can run around on top of a set of underwater switches. Each one only lights up if it touches air, so with time slowed down, you can run around and kick the water off the panel. It's kind of neat how everything slows down or stops, from incoming gunfire to incidental details.
Your time crystals can also be used at your discretion during combat, to slow down or stop enemies and protect your cat against incoming cannon fire. When an enemy turret pops up out of nowhere, you have the option to pause or slow time, so you can vaccuum up the incoming shower of buckshot or dodge out of its way Matrix-style.
Speaking of vaccuums--am I the modern master of the clever segue or what?--the Time Sweepers' main method of defense and offense remains a simple vaccuum cleaner. You can suck up up to five items, which can then be turned into ballistic weaponry. This is the only way to defeat time beasts: by chucking, say, a broken refrigerator at them. You can also use the vaccuum to gather up coins and bombs.
On the other side of the coin, the Tom-Tom Gang's missions play out like nothing quite so much as an ursine parody of Metal Gear Solid. Your new member of the Tom-Tom Gang gets to break into the Sweepers' headquarters to steal weapons, crystals, and equipment, by employing a crude combination of guile, violence, and something which approximates stealth.
Your basic weapon is a slingshot equipped with sedative darts, which'll put an unsuspecting guard under for a few seconds, but you're better off not fighting whenever you can. You see, when a Time Sweeper gets put on guard duty, he doesn't have to carry that pansy vaccuum; instead, he's handed a fully automatic laser rifle and apparently instructed to shoot to kill. Yeah, go ahead and take that on with your slingshot and good right hook. It'll be funny.
To deal with such things, a member of the Tom-Tom Gang gets kitted out with a number of essential tools, such as holographic decoys and banana peels; clearly, they shop for spy equipment in the Acme catalogue. You can steal time grenades from the Sweepers, which'll slow or stop time, and use a gadget called a "subspace dive" as a sort of instant hiding place/cloaking device.
Both the Tom-Tom Gang and Time Sweeper campaigns can be played one- or two-player, and both campaigns provide newer takes on 3D platforming than the usual hop'n'bop. If you don't care for the Ratchet & Clank-ish Time Sweeper game, you can switch over to the Tom-Tom Gang's levels and play the Looney Tunes version of a stealth-based action game. It's an interesting way to handle a platformer.
If you didn't care for the original Blinx, the sequel's a drastic improvement. Platformer fans with Xboxes should keep their eyes open for this one, which launches at the end of November.
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