A diving simulator by Arika, sequel to the popular Wii launch title Endless Ocean, this game is an unusual one.
You play an experienced diver, recruited by a specialist diving firm to explore the oceans and find treasure. As your reputation grows you are approached for other tasks - taking photographs, helping run an aquarium, discover and catalogue rare species and more. In your spare time you can run guided tours around the world, upgrade your tropical island home, and train dolphins. The game has an ongoing plot concerning a mystery about the world's whales, but as with the first Endless Ocean game this is short and much of the gameplay will occur after you complete it - in fact certain parts are not unlocked until you have.
You can actually visit locations like the aquarium and the island, giving the world outside the water a wider feel, but Endless Ocean is about diving and it is obvious where the work went in.
Underwater the graphics are beautiful, lifelike and immersive. There are some truly breath-taking moments in this game, from examining tiny angelfish to watching a school of blue whales swim by in awesome detail. Swimming is controlled by the Wii-mote or classic controller, and usually played in the third person, although you can zoom in to spot tiny fish you would otherwise miss.
The diving locations are set all round the world, with a huge range of fish and sealife in each location, and very different feels to each area. You can even climb out of the water to observe animals on land, for example penguins on ice. The fish are not all friendly - a range of hazardous animals makes diving in some areas a real risk and gives diving in those places a heart-in-mouth feel. There are some genuinely scary moments in this game.
Choosing your equipment is an important part of the game. Equipment changes are not cosmetic as they were in the first game, and each piece has unqiue abilites. You also have sonar and optional equipment which can be used to find items, drive off hazardous fish, or perform other functions. Depending on what task you want to complete, customising your suit can be essential since you have a limited amount of space.
The photographs, tours, and aquarium are nice touches, as is the ability to customise your island. One of the best part of the game comes after the main plot where, having solved one mystery, other marine biologists come to you with marine mysteries to solve. These are tricky and some require thought, skill or an FAQ, and definitely extend the game's playing time. I actually preferred this part to the main plot.
The dolphin training was the downspot for the game, and actually annoyed me. You can recruit dolphins of different types from around the world, all with their own abilities and train them to perform. The problem is that you don't play the training. If you set the dolphin to auto-train and leave the console playing itself, the game will happily do the gruntwork for you, and do it more effectively than if you play it. It just takes hours. Literally. This is the only reason the game doesn't have five stars, as you actually need to 'train' some of the dolphins for plot purposes.
In conclusion, Endless Ocean 2 is a great blend of game and diving simulator. For anyone who complained the first game lacked excitement or plot, this one has both and is well worth looking up. It is more complex, and not quite as suitable for younger players, but the majority of gamers should enjoy it.