It's a tough life being a fish. Not only do you have to live underwater - something that would terrify our own Sarah - but you've constantly got to have one eye looking over your shoulder, watching for the bigger dogs. Or, in this case, fish.
Such is the way of Feeding Frenzy - a brightly coloured, family friendly game based around something that really isn't all that family friendly, or even that pleasant to think about - the food chain. Starting out as a small fish, it's up to you to swim around the watery depths, eating anything that's smaller than you, while avoiding anything that may fancy you as anything from a main course to a small appetiser.
The more fish you swallow, the bigger you'll grow, and in turn, you'll soon find yourself with less predators, and more potential fodder, as the fish that were once eyeing you up soon do everything they can to avoid you. The whole point of each level is to eat as many fish as possible, until you fill up a bar at the top left of the screen, which is divided into three sections. When you fill up a section, you'll grow in size, and upon filling the third, you'll have finished the level.
However, it's not as simple as it all sounds. If you should happen to stray into a larger fish on your travels, it'll gobble you up without a second thought, and, in the main story mode, not only will you lose a life, but your progress towards filling the next section of bar will also be reset.
But if you think that sounds a bit too unforgiving for a game from PopCap - the people who bought us the excellent Peggle, Plants vs Zombies, and Zuma - you'd be right, as for those of you who find it a bit tricky, or for the younger players amongst us, they've included a story "lite" mode. While it doesn't seem to affect which fish you'll be presented with on the levels, it does remove a lot of the pressure, by giving you unlimited lives, and making it so your bar doesn't reset every time you lose a life. It's a great idea, and one that makes this game great if you've got a younger player you want to play along with - they can happily drive their fish head first into a bigger fish's mouth, without having to worry about losing any lives.
But with only just over sixty levels of the story to play through - each of which take only a few minutes to complete - you'll probably find yourself brushing the main mode off in a few hours - although, this being a PopCap game, there's plenty of other modes for you to dip your toes into. The Time Attack mode offers a different twist on the story, as instead of having to worry about lives, you'll only have to think about time. Starting off with 2:30 on the clock, you'll be racing against the time limit to finish the level - and when you move on to the next stage, the time you've got left on the clock carries forward. You'll be awarded a minute or so's bonus for finishing the level, but being quick, and staying quick is the way here, meaning Time Attack offers a more serious challenge than the rest of the game.
There's also a great variety of multiplayer modes on offer. The imaginatively named "Party Games" do what they say on the tin, offering 10 new mini-games for up to four people to play. Ranging from trying to eat a Golden Fish, to swallowing flies, there are plenty of games to keep you going. If you fancy a more regimented challenge, the Frenzyfest mode lets you take things a bit more seriously, by setting you a series of party games to complete, and awarding everyone third, second, and first place trophies after each game - which it then keeps a track of from session to session, so you'll always be able to see your lifetime performance.
But while it's definitely a fun game, it is a bit disappointing that Feeding Frenzy 2 doesn't expand a bit more on the educational side. While, after finishing a level, you'll be presented with a fun fact about all things fishy, it would have been nice to have unlocked some videos of the fish you're playing with, in real life, almost documentary style. At the very least, some sort of fact book on the species you come across, that unlocked as you progressed through the game would have made for some interesting reading.
But despite that minor short fall, there's very little else wrong with Feeding Frenzy 2. While the story may not keep you occupied for as long as you could hope, the party games should last a bit longer - and for around £6.80, it comes highly recommended.