Whenever a developer or a publisher sends us a ‘movie cross over’ or ‘movie tie-in’ title these days it is with great trepidation that we undo the shrink wrap and crack open the game case. As without even putting the game into the console you can, more or less, just use any old review that you have lying around of a previous ‘movie cross over’ game, then just erase the titles, and include the game that you are due to be reviewing ‘as new.’ Such is the dire state of play that surrounds this genre of videogames, that we are sure that you could give them all the same ‘poor,poor 4’ as sang ‘The Beautiful South.’ So if you happen to see a gaming website or magazine that has given Shrek Forever After a low rating or score? Then you know exactly what mischief is afoot, as it were. As here is title that is ready to break the stagnant mould of mediocrity that engulfs all those unfortunate titles that get swallowed up by curse of this category of videogames.
So let’s get right down to it shall we as we review Shrek Forever After?
The game itself, as you can see from the adjacent packshot, is available from June 18th, 2010 on every format from the Playstation 3, Xbox360 and PC right through to the Nintendo Wii and the Nintendo DS handheld. For the purpose of this review we decided to opt for the PS3 version of the title, for no other fact other than it is just a personal preference of the reviewer. But we can assure you that we have played the Xbox360 version also and it plays just as well as the PS3 version.
The good news for fans of the animated movies and of the games alike, is that this time around Activision have done what they do best, and invested more than a little time and effort into the construction of what has, in our opinion, all the makings of a huge summer hit for gamers of all ages. As let’s get one thing straight from the off shall we? We are not of the opinion here at GameMediaPro Towers that once you hit puberty that these types of games are no longer available to the more, ahem, ‘mature’ gamer so to speak. Far from it. These are the kinds of games that, if anything, are the reason I’m are still playing games 30-odd years after first picking up my orange and black Binatone paddle and swatting my ‘square’ ball back and forth across my digital net. Believing as I did that I was at Wimbledon crashing ace after ace against the likes of Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors.
This title is Fun, with a huge capital ‘F’ and that is why we here at GamesMediaPro enjoyed reviewing and playing this game so much. Its why we started playing videogames, and its why we continue to do so. Sure we are ‘Frag-Heads’ too, but there has to be ‘fun’ also? Or all you are doing is clocking in and going to work on your console in your free time? Never forget, people, its all about the fun! And in that department Shrek Forever After delivers it by the truck load!
The overview to the plot of the game goes a little something like this: You, (Shrek), have made a deal with the evil Rumplestiltskin and must find a way to use the ‘Exit Clause’ to get out of it. Needless to say that the contract is a bad thing for all concerned, but will our Hero return to his beloved Fiona and the marital home of The Swamp victorious? Or will you fall prey to the many traps and puzzles that await the questing Ogre as you travel with your band of three chums throughout Far,Far Away in order to locate missing items and…well, we don’t want to give too much away now do we? You’ll just have to buy the game and find out. Trust us, though, along the way you’ll be experiencing many a belly laugh as you traipse through the fairytale realm.
Graphically the game looks uncannily similar to the Pixar like quality of the animated movies, with no real noticable differences, especially if you are playing the game through a HD connection as we were. In fact the picture and sound quality are as good as anything else out there on the market. The renders are smooth, the frame rate ideal, and there were no visible drop’s or glaring glitches that we encountered throughout the entirety of the game? Quite the opposite, being that this is a review, we sort of keep an eye out for that kind of thing, and we can safely say that the developers at XPEC have done a sterling job. Even though we knew very little of their work prior to the release of Shrek Forever After, we certainly will be keeping an ear to the ground for rumblings of future titles that feature their involvement.
Gameplay itself is standard fare, considering the age group that the title is primarily aimed at. The nice touch that we found to be a highlight was the ‘quick jump’ select that meant that you could switch between any one of the four characters at the touch of a button. There is however, very little of what we would describe as ‘button mashing’, as players must use more precise methods of attack. Purchasing upgradeable powers and strengths to assit your characters instead of just pummelling away at the ‘X’ button. Wildly clattering the action button is not enough if you want to see your combat culminating in a series of combo’s and finishers. It is the skillful player who manages to attack without taking any damage along the way will demonstrate a powerful finisher that arrives with a typical Shrek-like flourish.
Puzzles are a welcome alternative to constant combat and make for a nice blend of frantic gameplay and more serene moments when the power of ones brain is needed, as well as the power of ones brawn during the fight scenes. For the younger audiences the puzzles will be challenging, but not to the point where the bottom lip puts in an appearance, as the controller is launched across the room and the door slammed firmly shut as they stomp off to the garden to sulk . Helpful hints will appear, at times in the form of a cameo appearance from movie favourites, such as the Three Blind Mice who offer assistance for a small fee that you can opt to pay for, with some of your hard earned silver and gold that you have amassed along the way.
Without divulging too much of the plot and so spoiling the story for young and old alike, there is plenty of good quality gaming to be had along the way in Shrek Forever After, whether you choose to play the entire game through alone, or co-operatively with a friend or loved one? Either way there is much fun to be gleaned from Shrek Forever After for many an hour.
If you do choose to play with a friend, or friend-S, seeing as you can have up to 3 players come along on the journey with you. Then we can genuinely say that there will be much merriment for all players as the game really does offer up the same kind of humour and general ‘feel good factor’ that goes hand in hand with the movies. In addition it may be wise to have someone ‘on hand’ as it were, as some of the more difficult puzzles during the game require that there be at least two players, so have Mum or Dad or a pal at the ready.
To summise then. While we were at first very sceptical of another ‘movie cross over’ game landing through the letterbox, we can honestly say that Activision and XPEC game developers have done a fantastic job at bringing a great movie to the gaming scene.With the only minor gripe that a jump button would have been nice, how can a game that has that as its one flaw get anything other than a whopper of a final score? And a whopper it most certainly is!
Everything as been revamped and polished to perfection since we last saw Shrek, and with startling results. We can safely say that the age group that the game is clearly meant for will have an absolute ‘ball’ with this title, and would not be surprised at all to see it grossing in far superior numbers than some of the so-called more ‘hardcore’ of games that are available for release around the same time.
Gameplay: A nice blend of action and puzzles to keep the kids occupied 7
Relay Value: Though the first few times will offer up chuckles a-plenty, we all know how kid’s are when it comes to having the latest and next in line of aything. It has to be a real barnstormer to keep them coming back 6
Presenatation: Without a doubt the firm favourite in the office of all the Shrek titles. Competent gameplay and surprising graphics combined with sweet sounding audio that all in all serves up a well rounded title. 8
For all future developements from Activision and XPEC game studios make sure you stick with GamesMediaPro.