"More than a year's passed since its sequel, meaning all that's really relevant now is the price. For £20, you get the original game, a training pack and an adequate yet uninspiring expansion. These days, you can get Crazy Machines 2 for a tenner in most places. Something does not compute."
My worry is that physics puzzle games are going to take over the world, holding us all captive in crudely drawn boxes, while makeshift catapults throw enormous hulks of rubber at our terrified faces.
It won't be the soothing childlike imagination of Crayon Physics Deluxe that starts the terrible revolution, either. It sure as hell won't be world of Goo's exuberant charm. No, it'll be something far more banal and irritatingly standard. Something like Professor Heinz Wolff's Gravity. Or, slightly more preferably, Crazy Machines.
First released in 2005, Crazy Machines was almost impressive in its dedication towards quantity over quality. Not that it was a terrible game, by any means: the physics worked reasonably enough, the presentation was perfectly adequate, and the puzzles themselves... well, they varied between hilariously easy and obnoxiously difficult, but were generally of a certain standard. Its insane number of levels lifted it into a position of some interest, but with so many of these games knocking about at the moment, it's difficult to remain excited.
More than a year's passed since its sequel, meaning all that's really relevant now is the price. For £20, you get the original game, a training pack and an adequate yet uninspiring expansion. These days, you can get Crazy Machines 2 for a tenner in most places. Something does not compute.
If you do cough up, that's a few hundred physics puzzles, which should be enough to keep you going. They're... well, physics puzzles. Like the ones in all those other games, only less memorable. There's one where you have to get a ball into a box. And another where you have to topple a load of dominos. And another where you have to get a ball into a box. And, yeah.
They're fine. Often nicely challenging. And completely unremarkable in almost every way. But there are a lot of them. Am I selling this? No, didn't think so. Can I go home yet?
Well, I suppose I could talk about the cheeky professor that pops up in the top left corner and repeats the same irritating phrases over and over again. I could talk about his mad ideas to convolutedly piss about with technology at the most inappropriate of times, which could be tenuously interpreted as some sort of loosely structural narrative. I could talk about the touted multiple solutions to each puzzle, even though the ones I came up with were invariably identical to the suggested method that becomes available after completion of a level. But you're probably not interested in that. I wouldn't be, either.
The expansion is marginally more interesting than the main game. Marginally. It's all basically fine, functional and a nice idle distraction. It works, if that's all you're after. But for the same price, you could get the sequel, twice. Or you could choose between World of Goo and Crayon Physics, two comparable yet infinitely more worthwhile experiences.
The thing with those is that they do something more than just work. They present essentially basic, physics-related gameplay mechanics, but position them within some sort of artistic endeavour. They have personalities. They're exciting. This really, really isn't.
It's not really bad, either, but at best it just makes me want to go back to Crayon Physics. Oh, I don't care. The Honest Gamers review submission form defaults to a score of five, and it's a bloody good job that's what I'd go for, because I almost certainly couldn't work up the enthusiasm to change it either way. Mediocre in every manner conceivable.
Freelance review by Lewis Denby (April 07, 2009)
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