Hexic 2 Review

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Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Carbonated Games

Platform: Xbox 360
Reviewed on Xbox 360

The puzzle action introduced in Hexic HD returns in Hexic 2, but now includes fancier graphics, more pieces and a fast-paced competitive battle mode.

Kyle Ackerman

Many Xbox 360 owners have enjoyed Hexic HD, particularly because of its stint as a free download. Designed by Alexey Pajitnov, the man behind Tetris, Hexic HD transformed a few simple rules into an elegant puzzle game that remains engaging and challenging through endless hours of replay.

Hexic 2 takes the original Hexic HD and makes it more hardcore. Flashier graphics, special effects, competitive modes and new pieces make the game even more attractive to core gamers, but at the same time negates the simplicity of Hexic HD that made it so attractive to casual gamers.

The original game had players rotating different-colored hexagons to create clusters of at least three hexes that would be cleared from the field. Arranging six hexes in a larger hexagon (a flower) created a starflower that could rotate all the surrounding pieces. Arranging six starflowers into a flower created a black pearl, a flower of which would win the game. That's enough complexity for the casual gamer.

In Hexic 2, starflowers are now stars, but there are plenty of other pieces. A line of five basic hexes creates an emerald that can flip the position of two pieces on opposite sides of the emerald. Five stars in a row or a flower of stars creates a ruby that can flip the position of four hexes around the ruby. A line of five rubies or a flower of rubies creates a black pearl and a cluster, line or flower of black pearls wins. This makes the game a lot more interesting to me, but pushes it past the complexity threshold for more casual gamers.

The new graphics, as well, make the game more exciting, but might alienate casual players. The field is fully 3D, and can even be rotated slightly. There are wild explosions, glowing gems and reflections galore. Individual hexes are translucent, so internal reflections from the crystalline hexagons give the entire play field a feeling of depth. An older relative, however, simply thought the play area was blurry and much harder to see than in Hexic HD.

The play modes from Hexic HD (Marathon, Timed and Survival) return, and, combined with the new game pieces and graphics, are more than enough reason to play the new game. But the real prize is the new Battle mode that allows gamers to play Hexic 2 competitively, either against the AI, against another player at home, or over Xbox Live. Both competitors play on the same field, with a dividing line that determines who has control over which area. Each color of hex that a player eliminates powers up attacks that can be used on the other player to drop a bomb, shift the dividing line, lock tiles or clear pieces on your side of the board.

Hexic 2 is a set of incremental improvements to the play established in Hexic HD, but adds a number of elements that are must-haves for hardcore gamers with a penchant for puzzles or competition. Those additions make Hexic 2 an excellent game, but will alienate casual gamers, who should stick with the original Hexic HD.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on August 29, 2007 5:00 PM.

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