I have been on record as saying on more than one occasion that movie-based video games have the highest likelyhood of being complete busts. For whatever reason these movie to game interpretations usually are rushed to hit the market the same time as the release of the movie, and thus you just never get the feeling the proper attention was given to any of them. Today we are checking out Shrek The Third for the Xbox 360, a game obviously based on the movie of the same name coming from the impressive line of animated movies. There has been some success from Shrek games in the past on the Xbox console, but could Activision succeed with Shrek the Third on the Xbox 360? Read our full review to find out!
Let’s just jump right into the review and start with the story of Shrek the Third, which for those of you who have seen the movie (which I have) you will feel right at home and extremely familiar with the story. Basically what the developers decided to do was use the outlaying storyline from the movie and then build upon it. So the game starts off in Kingdom of Far Far Away where the current King is on his last few breaths of life where he tells Shrek he is to be the next king. Shrek, being the typical ogre that he is, begs to find out if there is anyone else. The King does say there is one, Arthur. So your goal in the game is to go retrieve Arthur, and bring him back to Far Far Away. As mentioned before it should sound extremely familiar to anyone who has seen the movie. The game does try to veer off from the plot at times, but for the most part any time they do go off of the main track the story crumbles apart, and in general isn’t all that interesting.
My immediate issue with Shrek the Third is that they rely so much on a story that is already told in the movie that its hard to really have anyone get into it. Subsequently this pushes over into the gameplay, which feels like they were just scrambling for ways to get this game to have some sort of variety and structure. What Shrek does do however is mend together all of the different characters that you could ever think of playing as, whether it’s Shrek, the donkey, or the rest of the gang. Each character in theory has their own strengths and weaknesses. The only problem is that the game turns out to be nothing more than a pure button mashing experience that really doesn’t change that much throughout the experience.
The game has one of the most predictable formulas that sounds great on paper but in the end becomes extremely tiresome. Before each level or stage you have a list of objectives that you can or cannot complete by the end of that said level or stage. The only reason to do these missions is to either get more out of the game, or because you’re that into racking up all the coins to buy things in the "Gift Shop". But if you just throw those extra side missions to the side, the objective of this game 99% of the time is to get from point A to point B while clicking the A Button as you move through. Sure there is the special attack that come up when you daze your enemies, but there isn’t a lot of variation in the special moves, and for the most part they are rather uninspired to begin with.
The overall result is a game that is just about as uninspired as they come, and that’s not to say that the game is bad. It is just that like all movie-based games, it seems too rushed and unpolished to be able to stand on its own. Overall there are a few underlying elements outside of what we have already talked about that really does keep Shrek the Third from breaking any new grounds.
I have always thought it is extremely difficult for game developers who are working with today’s animated movies to try and recreate it in a video game. The biggest issue is that you are going to compare the game to the movie and the graphics in the movie far supersede anything the game has to offer. Shrek himself looks good and at times you can say that it is close to what the movie looked like, but we are just not there yet. The overall appeal of Shrek the Third in terms of visuals is in the great use of color, which really brings the game’s environments to life. The big issue outside of the constant comparison is the fact that you have no control over the camera, and thus the fixed camera manages to make its self intrusive in almost all important situations.
I am not one that dislikes a simple idea, and in fact a lot of times its the most simple of ideas that make for the most enjoyable games. Shrek the Third tries to be as simple as any other game based on an animated feature, and in some senses it did have some success. However you can see right out of the gate that there is nothing about Shrek the Third that really appeals to any age of gamer. Even the core audience, which would be the younger crowd, will realize the repetitive nature of the game and the fact that anything that wasn’t from the main storyline in the movie seemed half hearted at best.
There is really not much else that can be said about Shrek the Third, other than it is disappointing to constantly see games that could be enjoyable but fall into the stereotype of bad games based-on movies. Shrek the Third could be fun for some young ones with an extra dose of patience, but otherwise Shrek the Third goes onto the very long list of rushed, uninspired movie games that just doesn’t pack a very solid punch.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.