Type 'funny surfer dude' into YouTube and you get a cracking, irony-free clip of a chap eloquently expressing the joys of surfing. It's hard to tell whether he's been shot with a shark tranquilliser, hit by a bus or just swallowed too much seawater. Is he for real? Is he having a laugh, sending up surfer culture live on US telly? Who can tell. We're in a similar predicament with this game. What on earth is it? Relaxation aid? Watery adventure? Yo! Sushi video installation?
With Clearly Concussed Surfer Dude, it didn't matter what he was blathering on about, it was just hilarious to watch. And with the first Endless Ocean, there was a curious satisfaction to be had despite not really knowing what you were meant to be doing, if you were doing anything in the first place. You swam about, looked at fish and completed the odd task, all in your own time. It was pleasant, but we hardly felt like we were playing a game. It was like a holiday from gaming, a contradiction in terms that wasn't quite as horrible as it sounds.
Recognising that Endless Ocean was perhaps a little too understated, Arika has provided a hefty length of narrative rope for you to hang on to now, and almost immediately you're straight into a story. It's something about a sunken castle, a pendant, an orphaned girl called Oceana and a cryptic message from her dead dad. It's batty, in its own charming way, but hardly enthralling. It's not exactly Indiana Jones And The Ocean Of Doom, but it does at least throw up a series of quests as you sail around the world.
After quickly creating a diver that looks like Christian Bale in American Psycho, you're given your diving gear, a map and then some pointers to what you could do while you're underwater. You select the option to dive, point the Remote in the direction you want to go and squeeze B to flap away.
Everything is slow and deliberate, like you're swimming through treacle. There are no sharp movements (unless you're rolling out of the way of narked whales), and there's a sense of cotton wool calm under the waves. It's even controlled with the Remote and strictly nothing else - the better for keeping a hand free to turn Groove Armada up, or sip a nice lapsang souchong.
As you pass your pointer over fish and items of interest, you're invited to inspect them closer to find out more about them. It's a David Attenborough programme without the baby seal mauling - information for information's sake.
There's a 'gotta catch 'em all' aspect to cataloguing these creatures of the deep, and in the first game it was all rather pointless and anal. Here, as you observe fish you can apply all that knowledge by attempting to populate your own reef, though even this is only a mild diversion.
You're becoming one with nature. That's the point, rather then punching nature in the head. After gentle dives to sea shelves and cavities, waving a virtual hand to 'pet' sea turtles and the like, and occasionally scattering palmfuls of fish food, you'll catch yourself. What the hell are you doing? You've been swimming in a slow circle for the last 20 minutes lifting up random clumps of coral, looking for pretend sea slugs, that's what.
What you could do with, in the absence of any real thrills, or Funny Surfer Dude, is some kind of weapon, like a harpoon or a gun. Like the Pulsar gun! Yes, the game gives you a weapon for self defence, which fires electric pulses that calm creatures, making them forget why they attacked you. Much like the effect Endless Ocean 2 has on seasoned Call Of Duty vets. But even the pulsar comes with a sunny side effect. You can use it to heal sick fish to increase your diver stats.