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PS2 Review: Adventures of Darwin

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This PlayStation 2 exclusive title features monkeys who engage in tasks like hunting, building, and creating tools/weapons to advance their society. The monkeys could be more fun, but overall it still works, especially for $19.99. This title feels more like the Harvest Moon series than quick action titles like the Ape Escape series, though this game has one element of both — plenty of multitasking. Players must successfully manage environments, weapons, hunting techniques, minerals, wood, and food.

Weapons include bows, axes, and spears, plus you get a “crew” at the village tavern to help you out. Traps also help with the hunting elements. Hunting and gathering in the gaming world means lots of load time. (Why not have a big basket like in the Harvest Moon series and bring a big load home at the end of the day?) It’s fun to field test items, which boost the role playing of the evolution theme.

There’s a bit of learning curve without a tutorial, so read that manual as you complete the objective — advancing your society. Two big hints are gathering the heaviest objects first and developing the lab to make medicines. A visit to the Elder’s House and/or information board will give the status of village, which you can return to by pressing the start button.

The controls have a decent layout. The triangle button gives you access to options/inventory. The camera is a bit of a challenge (L3 resets the position) and the formation choices (R2 button) become very important in battles. Free formations work best for the mild fights, but huge fights, like challenging boss fights, need a cross formation. Prepare well for the boss fights and use every asset you can. After defeating a boss, the player will gain a new element to advance their society.

Besides the formation commands, getting your helpers to obey becomes a challenge. You can’t just turn off free will like in the Sims series. Even bigger challenges occur when you lose the helpers in the water or other mysterious reasons. Players can always get more recruits, but a higher quality of recruit would save time and aggravation. The game makers make success relatively easy, and almost stall the process with these difficult recruits.

The puzzle elements and the drum filled music are great, but the load times could use improvement. There is a relatively high replay value for the price, and overall, an experienced players can finish in about a 12 hours, without getting all of the bonuses. The game also has two different endings depending on your village’s rating.

Adventures of Darwin is rated E10+ (Everyone 10 and older) by the ESRB for Mild Cartoon Violence.

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