On top of the changes to the board, the developers have gone back and changed a few fundamental things about how you fight. For the most part the basics have been retained -- you still match three (or more) colored icons that allow you to use magic spells to defeat your opponent. This time around you will also be matching a brand new fist icon, which allows you to use your items in combat. This means that you can pull out a dagger when you don't have a move and knock five or ten points off their life.
Puzzle Quest 2 also introduces another gauge, which lets you increase your attack and defense. This may not sound like much, but it can be the difference between blocking an enemy attack or getting an extra-powerful attack with your secondary weapon. This time around I ended up spending more time dealing with my equipped weapons and armor, which can either be good or bad depending on what you expect out of your Puzzle Quest. The good news is that all of these new additions play nice and don't overcrowd the delicate balance D3 had with the first game. It's worth noting that some items have been removed from the battlefield, such as the money icon from the first game.
Just like everything else in this sequel, you'll discover that Puzzle Quest 2 does not skimp on the magic spells. Perhaps it's because there are so many more components to the battle (what with the secondary items, armor gauge, etc.), but there are a lot more spells to earn and choose from in this installment. It's also impressive how varied the spells are, especially when comparing different hero classes. There are so many great spells for each class that it's often difficult narrowing it down to just a few.
All of these elements add up to a game that feels incredibly refined. The first game was fantastic, but this game really builds on it in every way. Yet, even with these improvements there are a lot of little problems that kept me from falling in love with Puzzle Quest 2. For one thing, the combat feels even more punishing than usual. The game requires you to do a lot of grinding in order to start winning big fights, yet it's easy to accidentally get stuck in areas with only difficult opponents.
Some of the problems may just be inherent to this style of puzzle game, such as the annoying way the computer seems to know what's off screen. Some of these matches come down to luck, which enrages me like no other game. Thankfully you still earn experience points when you lose. That may be out of the developer's hands, but they could have easily done a better job of letting me know I leveled up. I went nearly 10 levels without being aware I was leveling up.
For the most part I was able to look past most (if not all) of these problems. Puzzle Quest 2 didn't grab me the same way the first game did, but that may have more to do with the freshness of the original. Even with the new changes, I feel like I've been here and done this before. Still, it didn't take long before I was playing it obsessively.
On the Xbox 360 the graphics are crisp and everything is easy to see. The dungeon crawling may not look as good as Sacred 2 or Diablo III, but there's a marked improvement over the first game. The puzzles themselves don't look much different, though they certainly don't look any worse, either. The control works well and fans of the original Xbox Live Arcade release will no doubt enjoy the look, sound and feel of Puzzle Quest 2.
Puzzle Quest 2 is a great game, make no mistake about it. But the spark I had for the original is likely gone forever. It may not be the revolution of the 2007 release, but D3's newest Xbox Live Arcade game is definitely worth playing through. There's more than enough content for you to get your money's worth, even if you are burned out from the first game.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
After two years of nothing but rocky seas, Puzzle Quest 2 manages to right the ship and correct the course. D3's newest Xbox Live Arcade game is everything you could want in a sequel, from improved graphics to enhanced gameplay. Still, the freshness of the original is likely gone forever!
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