Wednesday 24 October 2012

Lemmings Review (PS2)

It has been a long wait for fans but now the Lemmings are finally back in what amounts to a retro release with a fair few sparkly bits stuck on. Everyone should (hopefully) be aware of the lemmings concept by now surely? However for those out of touch, the aim is straightforward enough; simply guide your group of lemmings to the exit of the level (before the time runs out) whilst avoiding all manner of nasty traps and hazards along the way.

Anyone who has played Lemmings before will be at home here as this is pretty much a straight remake of the original game, with improved graphics, or to be more precise the PSP version of the game ported over to the Playstation 2. In doing so all the original levels are in place in this version; each with a graphical overhaul and the mouse control mapped onto the PS2 analogue sticks. Controls work well, except for the fact you have to use the shoulder buttons to cycle through the jobs for the little green creatures. It seems an oversight not to allow the game cursor down into the job list bar, but you soon get used to this novelty, and once this occurs it does not really stand in the way of the game.

What is a relief is completed levels are now saved, avoiding the previous issue of passwords. Now players can pick out what levels they wish and potentially see which ones have been finished. If you should get stuck on a stage it's therefore not such a problem either, as the original game levels are unlocked in blocks of ten so you can just move onto a different one.

Saying the game is just a remake of the original is a little unfair as there are a lot of other options on the disc. There are in excess of thirty new levels to try out, with the majority of these keeping up the excellent level design laid out before. There is also a level creation tool, allowing new levels to be dreamt up and put into effect, and then even uploaded to the internet where other players can download your vision. This means if you have the equipment you could be playing infinite numbers of Lemmings levels, created by numerous players with different approaches.

The most ambitious of the new options are the Eye Toy Lemmings. Here specially designed levels are put into action, that allow the player to use their body in order to save the lemmings by creating bridges with the hands or moving them across gaps. The idea is great but the execution of the Eye Toy is just too sensitive to fully take advantage. Unless you are going to get the unit facing a completely blank wall, chances are the lemmings will constantly walk into shelves or even shadows (that appear on the screen) making it impossible to direct them effectively. The idea shows promise and it is amusing to see a shower of lemmings bounce off you (on the title screen) but a few alterations need to be made for it to be a success in the future.

Whether this is an essential purchase or not comes down to how big a Lemmings fan you are. As the series has been made available on pretty much every single console and computer in history, many gamers will already own a copy of it somewhere. Of course this version does look especially good - and you do receive the new levels as well - but few will have access to the user levels from the internet. Add to this the fact it only includes the first Lemmings levels from the original release, rather than Lemmings 2: Tribes, and this could put many potential buyers off.

Overall the core dynamic of Lemmings still provides a challenging and addictive puzzle experience. The new graphical sparkle is welcome (but expected nowadays) and all the extra bits that have been included show that some thought and ambition has gone into trying to make a more rounded package than a simple rehash of an old game. If you don't own a Lemmings release already, then this is a very good place to start.


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