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Review: Temple Run 2 (iOS)

Saturday, January 26th, 2013 by

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I am not going to lie. I am not a fan of the original Temple Run. While it did everything it set out to do, which is bring the endless runner genre into a three-dimensional world, it just never really grabbed me. That, however, was one of those things I quietly kept to myself as over 100 million downloads across iOS and Android made it a massive success.

I tell you this, as I start this critique, because it’s hard to gauge what expectations I had for Temple Run 2. I like to believe I came in a skeptic needing his mind changed. However, admittedly, I could have just as easily came into the game with low expectations. Regardless, I know I expected more of the same.

Temple Run 2 brings the same core mechanics you found in the original Temple Run and Temple Run: Brave. You still tilt to move and swipe to act. While there is still a meter that fills for collecting coins, it now sets to activate a power-up of your choice. This little change adds a personal touch that caters to play styles. While I think the Boost is clearly the best, there will be players out there who disagree or simply prefer having a coin magnet at their disposal.

The terrain is different this go around as well. Now, paths raise, lower, and twist in parts. You still have moments where, logically, you’ve taken three turns in the same direction and question why you didn’t see an intersection a couple hundred meters back, but that is the nature of the procedurally-generated beast.

Perhaps looking to make the link between Temple Run and Indiana Jones less transparent, Imangi Studios added mine carts and zip lines to the mix. While the zip line isn’t particularly engaging, the cart rides add a different feel while being very much the same. However, instead of swiping to turn, you’ll need to tilt. Paths often curve, meaning you’ll need to pay close attention if you want to live, but it definitely adds to the game. Variety is the spice of life, they say, and it certainly feels like it added something sorely missing from the original.tr2_mine

Everything about Temple Run 2 feels better, honestly. The demonic monkey has changed into a menacing gorilla, far more viable a threat when you think about it, and brings a sense of urgency that the first just did not have. Tongue-in-cheek though the game may be, the high-pitched monkey shrieks did not get me on edge the way the vicious roar does.

The game moves smoothly, even on older devices, while being graphically superior to the games before it. Gone are the awful, bright golden bricks of Temple Run and deep fog of Temple Run: Brave. In their place are more realistic colors and textures, with short winding paths and rising hills, that look great in motion. Though there are a few noticeable moments where polygons just pop up out of nowhere, most often at an intersection, it does nothing to deter from how pretty the game is. I can’t put my finger on it, honestly, but movement just feels more organic. Even the sense of speed, which still gets ridiculous when you consider these people are running most of the time, feels better.

Run after run, you try to outrun the idol gorilla. You collect coins to unlock new characters and upgrade abilities. You get better and better at what you do. You accomplish your mission objectives to unlock rewards and increase your score multiplier. You do it again and again and, while monotonous over extended gaming sessions, it feels great in short bursts.

That said, there are problems that arise. Sliding while tilting, for instance, can cause you to trip almost at random. Some turns lead to an almost instant death, especially at higher speeds, when jumping over one death trap causes you to jump into another. And, while boosts will normally cause you to be invincible for a short period of time, I’ve had a couple of deaths where the “bridge” over gaps didn’t spawn fast enough.

tr2_windingIt’s reasonable to believe that these kinks will be worked out over time, such is the nature of mobile gaming when millions of eyes are on your game and thousands of upset gamers are on your case, but in its current state there are improvements that could be made.

The addition of a second currency in Gems may turn off some players. I understand the addition, but it also makes you wonder if the top players on the leaderboard are great players or just people with deep pockets. The less you think about Temple Run 2 being a pay-to-win game, the happier you’ll be with it. It does sully the integrity of the only real carrot dangling for players who have unlocked everything, but for the millions of players out there who aren’t concerned with being the best, this won’t change the game a bit for them. I’m sure some casual players will appreciate a second, third, or fourth chance to resurrect in a game where one misstep ruins an otherwise great run.

Overall, I’m a fan of Temple Run 2 and, seeing as it’s been downloaded tens of millions of times across both iOS and Android, there’s a good chance you’re only reading this to see if I agree with your opinion on the game. There’s no denying that Imangi Studios has refined their formula, which has been borrowed numerous times over the last year by games like Agent Dash and Pitfall, and made Temple Run 2 their best in the series, yet.

5 star

(Temple Run 2 is available for free in the App Store and Google Play. Temple Run 2 on iOS is universal, features GameCenter achievements, and supports widescreen displays.  A missing UI glitch was encountered during the course of gameplay but was easily fixed by re-starting the app.)

About the Author

Fade to Slack is a founding member of Delta Attack, an American expatriate in South Korea, and a true believer in the legitimacy of mobile gaming. Keep up with him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Fade2Slack so he can justify having a Twitter account.

Fade to Slack has written 352 posts on Delta Attack
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