Review By: Jared Black
|# Of Players:||1-2|
|Accessories:||Nunchuk, HDTV 480p, 16:9 Widescreen|
Even as far as movie-based games are concerned, Shrek titles do not have a good reputation. TDK Mediactive had the license first, and used it to churn out some of the worst movie-based games in history. DreamWorks then wisely handed it off to Activision, who did much better work and brought the franchise up to typical movie-based standards (decent, not great). Shrek the Third certainly does nothing to improve the franchise’s standing, but it’s not a bad way for a Shrek fan to spend a few hours nevertheless.
I haven’t actually seen the movie yet, but as far as I can tell the game follows its plot pretty closely. Shrek has been uncomfortably forced into the role of king of Far Far Away, and thus seeks out Fiona’s cousin Arthur to persuade him to accept the role instead. Problem is, Arthur is still in medieval high school, and must first prove his worth before accepting the throne. Meanwhile, Prince Charming is rallying the various forces of evil, and seizes control of Far Far Away while Shrek is away questing.
Joining Shrek on his journey are faithful companions Donkey and Puss in Boots, with Donkey up to his usual hijinks and Puss in Boots remaining as faithful as ever. Other playable characters during the journey include Arthur, as well as Fiona and Sleeping Beauty back home defending the homeland (or more appropriately escaping jail). Disappointingly though, regardless of which character you’re using, they play virtually identically. Waving the Wii Remote executes a light attack, with combos done by simply waving it multiple times. Strong attacks are done by waggling the Nunchuk, interacting with chests, doors, etc. is handled by repeatedly pressing the C button, and special fairy dust attacks are done with the Z button.
Shrek and Fiona also have a bullet-time type Ogre Power move, but it’s more annoying than anything else. The game’s so easy that it’s rarely needed, and the slowdown merely serves to make the game more tedious. Enemy A.I. is laughably bad, as they pretty much just run straight at you for you to beat down with few exceptions. You’ll only really need to block while fighting the Cyclops, although you will be forced to break a few enemy shields using the strong attack with the Nunchuk, and dodge a few projectiles from witches and the like. There are also some minor puzzles to solve, breaking up the monotony a bit.
Aside from the campaign, there are also a few mini-games playable by one or two players. These are basic diversions, including the Frogger-like Catacombs Leap (get Shrek and friends across the board), Frog Herder, Shrekleboard, etc. Nothing you can’t find for free in Flash form on the web, but different at least. The true multiplayer mode comes in the form of Castle Capture, where two players use catapults to knock down each other’s castle walls. Simply hold the Wii Remote straight up to build up strength, and then swing it down to launch a boulder or arrow. Once you get the hang of it, it’s a decent diversion as well, but hardly worth pulling out at a party.
Graphically, Shrek the Third gets the job done and little else, although its support for 480p is going slightly beyond the call of duty since that still isn’t in every new Wii game for some reason. The character models look pretty nice, but the environments are generic and uninspired. Although each level presents a decent view of the surroundings, each is actually extremely linear (complete with the always-annoying invisible walls) so you won’t be traveling to many places you can see. The camera angle is fixed and changes as you move through each area, but doesn’t always show the best view of the action. In fact, on a few occasions I wasn’t able to see my character at all, beating enemies off-screen as best I could. It also makes some jumps harder than they should be. The one standout part of the game graphically is the stylish puppet shows between levels, which tell the bulk of the story and setup the next level.
One of the big draws of the Shrek movie franchise is the excellent voice acting done by top Hollywood talent, but virtually none of them contributed to this game. Instead, fairly convincing sound-alikes fill in. Most of the time they replicate the big name talent well, but on occasion they slip and it becomes obvious that it isn’t really Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, or Cameron Diaz providing the voices. John Cleese does do an excellent job as the Narrator and King Harold however, and the talented Phil LaMarr has a minor role as Lancelot and a couple of other characters. Even without the big names though, Shrek the Third’s voice acting is more than passable. Aside from that, the music and sound effects are fairly sparse, but decent when they’re there.
If you’re craving more Shrek the Third after seeing the movie, then this is a decent rental. It captures the spirit of the movie pretty well, and the gameplay is solid enough to keep the 5-6 hours of gameplay moving along. Otherwise, there are much better Wii games to spend your hard-earned money on.
Posted: 2007-06-01 09:44:41 PST