Overall Score 59%
Break Ball 2 Gold
Break Ball 2 Gold is, as you might expect, a Breakout variant. A wall of bricks is gradually eaten away brick by brick by an ever-bouncing ball kept in play by a horizontally shifting bat.
Break Ball 2 Gold has a lot of pick-ups, a lot of bat types and a lot of ball types. The game also features some attractive graphical effects including lighting and particles, and there is a lot of high quality music in there too but given all of those positive points, the surprising thing is just how uninteresting the game is to play.
Break Ball 2 Gold is a massive game. 120Mb of bat, ball and wall, most of which is consumed by the music which is painlessly decrunched upon install. The high quality music, by the author Bryce Carroll, is impressive. The track entitled The Climb reminded me of Jean-Michel Jarre during his Revolutions period. The sounds in this game, like the graphics, are pleasantly above average.
There are many innovations in Break Ball 2 Gold. A bat at the top of the level can be controlled by another player, or the computer. Each player has a ball in those circumstances. Every pick-up you can think of is probably in this game somewhere, and there are several types of bat, ball and brick. The flaming ball with fire particles is a nice effect.
Amazingly for a game of its genre, Break Ball 2 Gold does not seem to play very well. The bat is very large, around a sixth of the width of the entire level. The ball is also pretty big and moves very slowly which makes the default game rather tedious. The game speed can be cranked up, which is an excellent option. Faster games are less tedious but somehow not much better.
The feel and control of the ball is probably the most important aspect of any game in this category, and it is here where I think the game suffers most. There doesn't appear to be any spin on the ball, and the reflected angles are very limited, which makes aiming much harder than it should be.
There are plenty of good things in this game. The pick-ups are lettered, making them easy to identify. There are lots of levels dressed in various graphical styles, and you can play any group of levels in any order. The standard option to mute the music is also present.
Any breakout game will have a difficult time standing out from the crowd. There are a lot of these sort of games around, and very few approach even the old classic Arkanoid. Break Ball 2 Gold is about an average addition to the ranks of similar games of the 2D era. As 3D becomes the graphical system of choice we might see some innovation in this genre, but innovation is not as important as the basic feel of the ball and the bat. Break Ball 2 Gold is full of ideas but I feel that the game is let down by flaws in that important area of gameplay.
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