Shrek Forever After Xbox 360 Review

August 3, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Publisher – Activision – Developer – XPEC Entertainment – Genre – Action – Players – 1-4 – Age Rating – 7+ – Other console/handheld formats – PS3, Wii, DS

Cooperative family games are a great way to get kids and their parents playing together. Here, there’s no better example than Traveller’s Tales LEGO games – a series that does enough to appeal to different age groups. In quite similar fashion, the Shrek film series has reached out to its main target audience, but it has also managed to appeal to adults as well.

Shrek Forever After is the fourth and final part of the film series, so it was likely that fans would have wanted game licence holder Activision to present them with an impressive tie-in. What’s certain is that Shrek, Fiona, Donkey and Puss in Boots are all here and can team up for some drop-in/out four player action. It’s strictly offline, if you’re wondering.

Those expecting a platformer will be in for a shock as only one character has the ability to jump, and this is only during small portions of the game that require it. At heart, Shrek Forever After is an action and puzzle game, with the latter being the predominant and most impressive facet.

Various upgrades can be purchased from a shop, which will improve the foursome during battle. Basically the combat just keeps getting easier.

When it comes to the action, Shrek Forever After is serviceable enough and the developer certainly knew their audience: combat is simplistic, using only a single button to dish out the pain. Each character also has their own special ability which all basically have the same result, stunning your foes if/when a breather is ever required.

Combat will certainly please the youngsters, although for us older gamers it doesn’t quite have the depth and soon becomes repetitive, particularly on the final level of the game which seemingly has enemies being quickly slung from a production line. Enemies are also pushovers, and with no difficulties and no hidden depth, this will be disappointing for the older Shrek fan.

As I said earlier on, the puzzle aspect is certainly more proficient. I didn’t play the game beside a little one, but I would expect that some of these puzzles could prove to be a little difficult for younger kids. This is where the teaming up of younger and older will be most effective – showing the kids how it’s done.

Sadly, some of the puzzles are overused, bringing about a feeling of repetition. It’s a case of how many mirrors can you move around before you begin feeling weary? Fortunately, the entire game isn’t comprised of mirror puzzles, although certain puzzles (mirrors included) do become close to worn out in some of the levels.

Each character is able to interact with the environment in their own unique way: Shrek can use his ogre strength to carry, push and pull objects; Fiona can blow things up, Donkey is able to use his hind legs to kick gates open amongst other things, and finally Puss in Boots can jump and climb. If you’re playing in single player or with less than three others, it’s possible to switch between characters whenever you need their skills.

Working together to overcome puzzles should be the mark of any good cooperative game, and here Shrek is carrying a melon to place into a catapult, Donkey can kick the said catapult to position it, and finally Puss will be the one to unleash it.

Shrek Forever After isn’t a particularly long game; I’d say it took me around four or five hours to get from the beginning to the end. There is replay value for those who like unearthing every possible secret – strengthened abilities allow you to return to levels to reach sections that couldn’t be accessed earlier on. But this is only really going to appeal to perfectionists and hardcore achievement seekers.

Visually, Shrek Forever After looks like it should, and no I don’t mean that it’s a carbon copy of the films, as games do have some catching up to do to reach this level of visual goodness, although the game is attractive enough and captures the Shrek look. Aurally, much of the film cast didn’t reprise their roles for the game, and to be honest I couldn’t hear the difference, meaning that the highly accomplished sound-alikes have done their jobs superbly.

All in all, there are far worse tie-in games than Shrek Forever After and it’s certainly enjoyable enough in multiplayer, although it’s a shame for a Shrek game to not quite manage to bridge the gap between the kids and the adults, something which Traveller’s Tales have done admirably well with their LEGO games. The short duration and the various other flaws means that I can only really recommend it as a rental, that is until the game is given a suitable price slashing at the very least, and perhaps this will widely arrive when the fever for the film eventually dies down.