• Exit started life on Sony’s Playstastion Portable, a platform well suited to its mix of slick action and superb puzzling. The original Exit was ported across to the Xbox Live Arcade a year or so back, and although the sequel has been available on the PSP for sometime, it’s nice to finally see it arrive on XBLA too.

    Exit 2 follows the first game’s core gameplay of guiding the athletic lantern-jawed trenchcoated Mr Esc into a series of perilous locales to rescue hapless citizens. Quite why Esc Esquire feels the need to disturb his morning cat-fussing / frappaccino sessions isn’t revealed, but members of the public sleep safe in their beds knowing he does so, so let’s roll.

    Exit 2

    Despite his film-noir-detective appearance, Mr Esc is more than capable of leaping across huge gaps and scaling high walls on tippy-toes. In a side-on and old-skool retro fashion, Exit 2 is presented as a series of rooms / buildings which are as treacherously designed as possible. Some are on fire, others are flooded, and others have suffered collapses and rockfalls. Scattered throughout the rooms are the people Mr Esc must rescue.

    Each type of “companion” has his or her own special characteristics that can help (or hinder) Mr Esc. Though he’s quite lissom and lithe, some of the characters he’ll meet really aren’t – and it’s up to you to solve each level, working out how best to escort these poor innocent victims to the exit, and home free.

    During the levels you’ll encounter:

    The kid – Smart, pretty fearless but a bit rubbish at climbing.
    The Fat Man – Strong as an ox but again can’t climb, can’t swim, prone to bleating.
    The Dame – She’s as cool as a cucumber despite an obsession with personal hygiene. Pretty useful in a fix but not super-strong.
    The Bodybuilder – Short on smarts, but strong enough to move heavy objects or lift fat people out of perilous situations.
    The injured guy – This poor soul needs carrying and can’t be relied on for anything much.
    The Dog – My own personal favourite. Cute, yappy and surprisingly adept despite being…well, a dog.

    Most characters can be controlled by Mr Esc using a secondary “point and click” system. This complements the main gameplay by allowing you to make the companion characters do your dirty work for you. Send the dog into a fire-filled room to grab a key you’ll need to open a vital door, or direct the muscle-bound jock to push a heavy block into place and you’ll forgive the companions for their various whinges – they are actually all quite useful in their own ways.

    These motley collections of characters aren’t your only problem. There’s a whole barrage of physical challenges and logical puzzles to solve in Exit 2’s wonderfully constructed levels. Reminiscent of classic arcade game Elevator Action at times, you’ll find plenty of variety to keep you entertained.

    The Xbox Live version of the game features all the niceties you’d expect from an XBLA conversion. Online high scores are kept for your quickest times through each level. There’s no multiplayer per se but you can play “pass the joypad” to locally compete for quickest times.

    In essence though, Exit 2’s main challenge – like it’s predecessor – comes from working out the solution to each puzzling level, with the difficulty curve gradually ramping up until time becomes a factor, and Mr Esc will need to do pretty much everything right first time in order to squeak through the exit with all his charges alive and well.

    Mess up though, and there’s the humiliation of seeing another superhero (some lunatic in a cape with a flashing light on their head) mopping up after you, and of course taking the glory.

    Exit 2 is as nicely presented here as it was on the PSP, and it’s the perfect fodder for the Xbox Live arcade. It might only offer a few new wrinkles over the original Exit, but if you’re hungry for more puzzling and you want to see a slightly more fulfilling game than the original, then leap straight for this.

    Score: 8/10

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