Shrek the Third Xbox 360 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Shrek is an animated movie that has managed to appeal to both kids and adults, which is a good thing as parents shouldn’t have to be bored when they watch a movie with their children. With the third movie now filling up cinema seats, a tie-in game was as much of a certainty as Shrek being green once again.

It’s not surprising to learn that the game is going to appeal to a broader audience, and Activision knew this, making things incredibly easy to pickup and incredibly hard for Shrek and friends to kick the bucket. Indeed even on the grimm difficulty, the games’ most difficult option, things are rather easygoing, as according to most development teams casuals and kids are only capable of bashing buttons and being opposed by enemies with the intelligence of Mr Bean on a bad day.

Of course games don’t have to be difficult to retain our interest, we’re not elitist forum users who look down our noses at people who play games less than us, at least this ever expanding group won’t be suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome courtesy of too much joypad usage and obesity due to lack of inactivity. Anyway what we’re saying is that Shrek the Third isn’t a bad game at all, true we’d be lying to claim it was the greatest thing in the world…ever, but it’s still a game that you can approach without smelling something similar to sweaty old socks, we’re talking about that rotten smell of shoddiness that has been associated with many licensed games.

Just look at those graphics, this Xbox 360 version looks amazingly great, perhaps it’s quite a distance behind the quality of animation seen in the three movies, although Shrek and company look how they should and the environments have been suitably inspired by the movie locations. Nope, it certainly isn’t shoddy.

We’re not going to let the game away with its faults though, some we’ll detail later, but rather obvious ones include the presence of invisible barriers which halt your movement, and as one grassy ledge looks like another grassy ledge for example, this can be frustrating, although it’s something that doesn’t happen regularly enough for us to get too grumpy about. The enemies on the other hand may not be the brightest sparks, although seeing them run against walls makes for some rather unintentional comedy.

Right, we’ve arrived at the point that makes or breaks a game, and we don’t think we should have to tell you what we are talking about either. Yes, you guessed correctly (if you didn’t then perhaps you need a big punt up the behind) we’re talking about the gameplay. Unsurprisingly simplistic without endless strings of combos to memorise and extra fingers to be found from somewhere, Shrek’s combat system could be picked up by an old blind man with an arthritic hand. Two buttons are reserved to do the whacking with, whilst funny finishing moves and special fairy dust attacks are your ultimate options, resulting in such great moments as bombing the ground with Shrek’s huge green frame, making enemies attack one another with Sleeping Beauty, whilst Puss n’ Boots brainwashes enemies into thinking that he is cute (he’s already a cute pussycat of course, although it takes a little more for evil guys with big swords to realise this), allowing you to then take them out. Good stuff, and all very Shrek-like.

Combat isn’t the only thing that Shrek the Third consists of though as jumping, collecting and some very light puzzle solving are also involved. It’s the collecting that deserves a mention though, as gathering money allows you to – wait for it – buy some stuff from the in-game gift shop, whilst other items must often be found to complete side tasks as you venture through the levels.

That gift shop we mentioned deserves another mention, if only to praise it for not offering the clichéd secret artwork as seen in many similar games. There’s plenty of additional content to be purchased through the shop, and it’s fortunately less throwaway than a piece of artwork that most of us only may look at once, or twice if we are feeling generous and are wanting to appreciate someone’s work. Extras here include new costumes for the characters, which aren’t only cosmetic, as they actually improve certain things when you are in the game. There’s some entertaining commentaries, new difficulty levels, and some additional maps and characters for the multiplayer mode also to be purchased. All good, as we’ve had enough of artwork for a lifetime or two.

Staying on the subject of two, the game has a rather splendid multiplayer mode. We thought that shooting towers down was our only option until we spotted the mini games. There’s the option of five mini games to choose from, some have you racing against each other and blowing ships up, whilst others have you herding frogs (yes, you read that correctly) and playing a variant of shuffleboard. All offer a jolly good time (at least for a little while) and don’t feel awkwardly tacked on as if they were dreamed up in the late days of the development cycle.

Shrek the Third is inoffensive fun, that certainly doesn’t commit any serious gaming sins, and its target audience will be delighted to be taking control of the green ogre as well as his colourful friends. There’s a smattering of flaws, although perhaps the biggest one is the combat, which soon gets repetitive and doesn’t manage to sustain the interest for the entirety of the game, mercifully the action doesn’t outstay its welcome then. There’s also a rather nice multiplayer mode (that could have quite easily been a one-on-one fighting contest) when you’re finished or bored of the single player mode, so all in all it’s a pretty decent package then.