An Excellent Reminder of Classic Puzzle Fare
I have always been a huge puzzle game fan, and a fan of quirky titles. The now-defunct Incredible Machine series was my go-to for crazy puzzle games with sandbox-style gameplay. With this in mind, I may be a little skewed towards automatically liking a game such as Crazy Machines 2. Despite this, I have never played the original Crazy Machines or its pseudo-sequel 1.5, and I do feel that the genre has a lot of things that can be done wrong. Luckily, Crazy Machines 2 doesn't hit too far from the mark, although I will not say it's a perfect experience.
First and foremost, Crazy Machines 2 is fun to play. The game plays as it should, giving you problems that need to be remedied with overly complicated Rube Goldberg machines, and the means to build them with hundreds of insane parts that make absolutely no sense being together. The tutorial is very straightforward, introducing you to each basic type of machine in depth, while leaving itself open to continue introducing similar but different parallel versions of those objects. It gives you some simple tasks, walks you through them, and does a good job of doing step-by-step. My only problem was when I sometimes did a few too many steps before starting the experiments, which basically amounts to pressing a "Play" button that starts all of the physics into motion. When I did this, it would show a congratulations message, stop for a few moments, and then show me the next congratulations message that would normally come after the next step is done. It's more of a small annoyance than anything, and honestly that's about the worst any of the problems in the game get.
The physics in Crazy Machines 2 are also phenomenal, with just enough realism to get jobs done but not so much that positioning is frustrating. Sometimes objects react a little haphazardly, but that is the nature of the game's 'experiment' motif, and doesn't detract much from the overall experience. Most objects react with realistic effects, although some physics involving fans and other indirect methods of moving objects, while expected to be exaggerated, sometimes felt like they were too powerful and more intense than I would initially believe. This sometimes led to frustration, as learning to deal with different objects would become a chore, when the game could have used a single item or effect for multiple things. Overall, though, the difficulty of the game is managable, with a good learning curve and good teaching elements. There's also some unneeded fluff that adds an weird storyline to the game, although it's all just fun little stories that lead up to "The king needs this bowling ball to knock down this pin since we're getting set up for our bowling tournament".
The graphic design is moderately well done in Crazy Machines 2, ranging between several different motifs for backgrounds, though not adding a lot of variation in the machines themselves. You'll usually be using the same types of machines regardless of what the theme of the area is, which makes them superficial in my mind. There is some variation in other objects between themes, but most of them are unimportant props or physics items. The graphical HUD elements were decent, although with how well they designed the 3D portion of the game, I'm rather surprised that the other elements seemed so unpolished and bland. I also had a slight issue with blank space when I set my graphics settings to 1080p, which further dissatisfied me with the graphic design of the game.
My main gripe with Crazy Machines 2 was simply that the announcer's voice is grating and gets annoying quickly, and he certainly says a mouthful on every mission, making sure that you hear him every time. The sound design is mostly just bland, with basic sound effects for most machines, and a somewhat boring soundtrack. I didn't hear a lot music I disliked in the game, but at the same time, there was little that was keeping me entertained. Oftentimes a good soundtrack can make or break a puzzle game, and while I wouldn't say it breaks this one, it certainly doesn't do it any favors, either. The music is simply white noise, which can be a good thing for some people, but I rather enjoy at least a catchy tune behind whatever I am playing, so when I feel like I have to put on seperate music to play a game, it's ever so slightly disconcerting.
Overall, Crazy Machines 2 is an excellent puzzle game and a magnificent time waster, whether you're working through the superficial story mode or messing around in the sandbox modes. It guarantees hours and hours of gameplay, especially if you enjoy brain teasers with a unique twist. I think it more than lives up to its predecessors in every way, and updates the format with good graphics and excellent physics. If you're into physics based puzzle games and good old science, pick it up on your distributor of choice... For science!