I was a big fan of Ghost Town‘s original Overcooked as it reminded me of the incredibly addictive Diner Dash crossed with the pressure I imagine the contestants within Hells Kitchen come under when Gordon Ramsey is on the rampage! Improving on everything the critically acclaimed original game had to offer, Overcooked 2 is here to break up families and friends as you scream and shout in order to make your kitchen as efficient as it can be! I suppose the question is, will Overcooked 2 be a culinary masterpiece or is it past its best-before-date?
The following is based on actual events. Only the names, places and vegetables have been changed…
Overcooked 2 begins with a rather creepy opening if I’m being honest. The Onion King is cackling away in his castle at the fact that he has finally gained access to the one thing he wanted his whole life, a Nobel prize! As such, he’s received the “Necro-nomnom-icon” – which unfortunately doesn’t look like the Evil Dead one. Kevin, the Onion Kings dog, seems reluctant for the Onion King to read the passages within this fabled book as he senses a great danger from deep within the cursed text; however, the king ignores his concerns and continues to read out aloud the troubled recipe! “In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast…”
Unaware of his actions for reading the satanic recipe for creating bread, the king cheerily jumps around for joy that he finally got the chance to read such an elusive document. However, whilst it’s all shouting and dancing in the castle, in the nearby graveyard the bread has begun to rise from the dead – it’s a terrible catastrophic occurrence of “The Unbread!” So, once again it’s up to our unprepared chefs to head down to the graveyard in order to feed these self-risen zombies in order to appease their appetite. At this point, all I could think of was Dead Hungry which I reviewed a while ago!
You’re given a brief intro to the game as you feed these baps of doom with the outcome being that you have satisfied them for now; however, if they (jam)spread outside of the castle grounds then the entire kingdom is doomed. So, you must travel across the land, learn to cooperate and discover new and exciting recipes so that you may take on the muffin monsters once more and lay them to rest once and for all.
Under new management:
If you’ve played the original Overcooked then you know what to expect – if not then you’re in for a treat as you’ll get to play the amazing combination of time management, frustrations, arguments and a lot of swearing at the TV! The game is made for multiple players as standard but this doesn’t mean that you can’t play the game solo – it’s just a lot harder. When playing Overcooked 2 solo you’ll have control of two chefs whom you can alternate between at the touch of a button. The disadvantage of this is that you can only control one at a time and you usually have to plan ahead in order to keep things running efficiently. If you’re playing with multiple players then the game becomes somewhat easier as you can both move and interact independently from one another as you work towards the same goal – feeding the annoying customers!
So, what’s different between the original game and this nicely polished sequel? As far as I can tell, other than the numerous improvements to the core gameplay, the two new features are the ability to throw and communicate with the other players. Okay, so we could always enter voice chat and shout at the other person playing but what if you’re playing with a random person online and they don’t understand your language? The game as added in-game emotes which manage to get across the majority of the feelings you’ll experience whilst playing the game – all of which are universally understood. So that’s a neat addition.
The throwing mechanic is by far the most useful mechanic within the game now and it’s something I never even thought about until I accidentally realised I could do it in-game. Not only is it a godsend in single player as you can easily toss uncooked food from one chef to the other without having to run around and waste time putting it down, swapping, then picking it back up, but even with multiple people, it works great as you work efficiently on your dish. The game even has a few dedicated stages where throwing the food is essential as you have a character near food and the other near the chopping boards, yet there is a big gap between the two of you, a gap that can only be overcome by throwing the food across it!
More of the same:
For those out there who haven’t played the original game, you may be a little confused and not quite sure what the game is, as up to this point I’ve basically been presuming you all know what the game is about. This section is for you. Overcooked 2 is all about cooperation, efficiency, time management and following instructions. The aim of each level is to create the recipes you see in the top left-hand corner of the screen to satisfy the hungry and impatient customers. Each food item has a food requirement listed underneath it – for example, a simple salad may just require you to chop up a lettuce and serve that yet a more advanced on may require both a chopped lettuce and a chopped tomato.
As you progress further into the game you’ll unlock new recipes which will involve frying, boiling and steaming – some of which requires you to do a combination of all four processes! For example, there is a dish which requires you to chop up ingredients, then steam them followed by boiling them all together with another ingredient. Seriously, the game gets so manic when you’re playing it in single player! As I previously mentioned, it’s all about time management – so you need to get one chef chopping away (which has a timer bar) and whilst they are doing that you must take control of your sous chef and either gather more ingredients, tend to food which is cooking or chop something else up.
That’s right, just like in any kitchen – you can’t leave the food cooking for too long! If you burn your food then it could either end in a good way and result in burnt food which you must throw away and start again, or it could be bad and result in the whole kitchen setting on fire – which is even worse when you’re on a level made out of wood! You also get a bonus for completing the food in the order as it appears in the top corner – so don’t go skipping the more advanced dishes just because you want to complete all the easy one as it will result in you losing your multiplier and, most likely, your chance at getting above a single star for completion. Overcooked 2 may start out easy and gentle on you, but after about ten levels or so you’ll definitely begin to feel the heat (maybe you should get out of the kitchen?)
Also returning from the original game is the dreaded three-star scoring system. Boo! I’m not a massive fan of the mobile-style three-star approach but it works well in Overcooked 2 and it keeps you on your toes as you try and rack up your points to earn all three stars. It’s not like other games where progress is limited by the number of stars you unlock either – progress is simply unlocked via completing a level. The map screen is another welcome return from the original game with its 3D map you traverse across in your mini-van. Each level unlocks one after another with secret bonus levels littered around the map and even some ‘secret’ switches which you must press in order to make ramps appear so you can access new areas. I say ‘secret’ but so far the switches have been right there in the open so I’m not sure if they become more hidden later on?
Overcooked 2‘s main frustration doesn’t really lie in its recipes or the asynchronous approach to multiplayer in singleplayer mode, it lies in the evil developers sadistic level designs! Sure, you’ll have some levels which may require you to do all your chopping in one area, cooking in another and serving in another corner – all whilst trying to wash your dishes in another section of the level – but that’s child’s play! The levels I’m on about are the one where you’re in a hot air balloon which is under attack by fireballs which will burn your kitchen and your chefs if you don’t constantly put them out, a level where the only way to get food from one guy to the other is a slowly moving platform that swings from side to side or a level which constantly breaks into pieces with certain essential processes only possible on ones which have now gone bye-bye!
The kitchens have definitely not got Wicks’ name on it, and if they have then Wicks should be sued for creating such satanic and frustration inducing layouts! These are even more creative than the original Overcooked – something which I didn’t think was possible. However, each level has been handcrafted with care in order to not only create a massive pain in the butt but also to create a level which isn’t technically broken. Each level ‘can’ be completed in a super efficient way, you just have to get inside the minds of the developers and work out what that process could be. The level design also leads to many new and unique stages over the original game, even though some of them work in a similar way with the same mechanics, I never felt like I was simply playing Overcooked 1.5.
How to lose friends and alienate people:
As previously stated, Overcooked 2 isn’t technically a single player game. The developers want to watch you squirm as you play in co-op either locally or online. Locally, you can team up with up to three others as you take on the story mode or opt to participate in either the Arcade Mode (Same as the main story, only you can jump into any level even if you haven’t reached it yet) or the Versus Mode (team of up to 2v2 who have a standard cook-off). This mode is lots of fun and will seriously result in a lot of swearing, hitting your siblings, telling your parents that they don’t know how to play games and they have ruined it, and maybe even the end of some long-term friendships and/or relationships.
Introduced in Overcooked 2 is the addition of the online multiplayer, an option which was heavily requested since the original released with only couch co-op. Personally, I’m not a massive fan of this mode with regards to playing with random people, but I can see it being a lot of fun if you have friends who can’t come around and want to play it online instead. Thankfully, you have the choice of either playing privately or publically so that random people don’t enter your game and end up messing around and ruining it for everyone! This is where the emoji emotes come in handy as it gives you a way to portray how you feel to everyone on your team without actually saying anything out loud. You can only play Arcade and Versus in the online multiplayer side but it’s still more than enough content to extend the life of the game by many, many hours!
Visually Overcooked 2 is very similar to the original but with some extra polish here and there. You play the game in a top-down 3D perspective as you rush around the kitchen. The camera will sometimes zoom out in order to fit everything on screen and then back in as you focus on one aspect – this is performed really smoothly and I never felt anything was obstructed or hidden. I just love the overall aesthetic of the game and how gosh darn cute the game is! The UI is perfect in it’s easy to read and understand layout, along with the nice bright colours and fast-paced action. I never once saw any slowdown on the Pro, even when all of my kitchens were on fire!
The music in the game is just as jolly and wacky as the original game. It almost has a rhythmic beat to it in a way which lets you move to the beat and perform more efficiently and productively. As such, when the stage enters the final 20 seconds, the music begins to get faster and faster – this really kicks in and you feel the urgency of getting everything out there in order to scrape the last few points. The variety in music is also a massive plus point for me as a lot of the stages have their own unique tune and personality. The general sound effects are nothing to shout about but I would say that everything sounds great from the bubbling of the water to the chopping of the food.
I really enjoyed my time with Overcooked 2. Sure, the game does get pretty hard when you’re playing it on your own due to the amount of micromanaging and time management involved, but it’s yet another game where over time you’ll get much better at the mechanics and simply become much faster and more efficient at the game. Overcooked 2 really does shine in multiplayer with your friends through both online and via local couch co-op modes. It’s so much fun seeing the true colours of people you have known for many years instantly come out as you begin to boss each other around and become aggressive when you start to lose! Saying that, I would still recommend it to single players as long as you are willing to persevere and stick with it as you gradually get better the more you play.
In terms of the free-for-all multiplayer though – I’m not a massive fan but I’m sure there will be some people out there who want to play it properly and not just mess around. Just try not to get too aggressive over Xbox Live or PSN as we’ve heard many tales of people being banned from the service for giving a lot of abuse to people! I wonder if they will be more lenient on a game which causes you to get aggressive?
Overcooked 2 vs Overcooked is like comparing an executive chef to their sous chef – they are both amazing at what they do but the executive is clearly more advanced and built on experience. As such, Overcooked 2 has taken on board all of the feedback from the original game and improved on every aspect to the point where going back to the amazing Overcooked feels like a downgrade! There are tonnes of fun and frustration to be had in solo-play, couch co-op, and even online multiplayer modes – although it’s a much better experience to play with friends or people you know the majority of the time.
If you played the original then this is a no-brainer, pick it up today! If you’re looking for a family friendly (well, kinda) co-op game for literally any platform – go pick it up today! Anyone else left? A few of you, okay – you few also need to go and pick it up today!
- More of the same - which isn't a bad thing!
- The developers have taken a crazy game and made it even crazier!
- So much fun to be had in SP, MP and Co-op
- Plenty of content to keep you occupied for hours
- Amazing soundtrack with a new song on almost every level
- The online side is a little hit or miss with people who may or may not actually help
- The difficulty does get quite intense if you are playing it on your own