MA­GI­CIANS’ CODE

EDGE - - PLAY -

Magicka was no­to­ri­ously bro­ken on re­lease, a buggy mess with the most be­moaned net­code this side of a re­cent Bat­tle­field launch. Magicka 2 still has its early is­sues – tele­ports that skip whole fights, stut­ter­ing boss an­i­ma­tions, wizards flung off­screen yet not dead – but it’s a con­sid­er­able step for­ward in terms of so­lid­ity, es­pe­cially when it comes to team­ing up with oth­ers. All of which should avoid the need for another round of Mea Culpa DLC, and its joke Crash To Desk­top spell. friends, where you have the fris­son of dodg­ing friendly fire but the chaotic thrills of mashing spells to­gether.

On your lone­some, it’s an ex­er­cise in frus­tra­tion. Pieces has greatly em­pha­sised move­ment, al­low­ing you to cast on the go, but that comes with mobs that tire­lessly run you down and camp on your grave. Your fa­mil­iar can grant a re­vive, but with a fair old cooldown on the spell to recharge it and lots to dodge with only a few un­re­li­able Mag­icks to aid you, many bat­tles de­volve into run­ning around as you try to avoid restarts. Poor check­point­ing doesn’t help, of­ten bounc­ing you back to the most re­cent cutscene, not the tus­sle at hand.

Fans of the orig­i­nal may also take is­sue with the sim­pli­fied con­trols, whereby dial-a-combo su­per-spell Mag­icks be­come D-pad or num­ber-key short­cuts. The up­shot is that Magicka 2 is eas­ier to grasp, but no longer de­mands feats of deft typ­ing (though these are still pos­si­ble). A more uni­ver­sal prob­lem is that deep en­emy health bars and lit­tle vari­a­tion in el­e­men­tal weak­nesses per mob en­cour­ages cast­ing sim­i­lar spells over and over.

Nonethe­less, Magicka 2 is an of­ten-charm­ing, af­ter­noon-long mul­ti­player romp that can de­liver ex­plo­sive laughs with friends. It’s just a shame that the ran­dom­ness it courts with its spell­cast­ing seems to have bled into ev­ery change Pieces has made, con­jur­ing a se­quel that is only in­ter­mit­tently bet­ter than its pre­de­ces­sor, if still ev­ery bit as fran­tic.

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