The Golden Compass Review
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The Golden Compass box art
System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Shiny Entertainment 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: SEGA 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Dec. 4, 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Much of Golden Compass gameplay basically boils down to a fairly uninspired 3D-action game with a minimal amount of platforming thrown in to spice things up a little. You will get to play as either Lyra, Iorek, or both on your quest. The segments that you play as Iorek are definitely the most enjoyable part of this game. Most of Iorek's levels will have you running around and attacking anything that moves. While his attacks are fairly limited, mostly just pressing a button multiple times for combos or another button for a group attack, there is enough depth present to make these levels somewhat amusing.

The Golden Compass screenshot

Lyra's levels, on the other hand, are not incredibly fun. These levels contain a decent amount of platforming, the problem being that there just isn't enough of it. More often then not, you will just end up completing a ton of fetch quests, mini-gaming your way through countless conversations and trying your best to avoid enemies. If you do happen to get into a tussle with an enemy, the game will force you into the same mind-numbing evasion game every time. These will have your opponents mindlessly running at you and into whatever is behind you if you successfully dodge them. Lyra's evasion mini-games are incredibly boring and really make you wish you were just playing as Iorek instead.

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Unfortunately, these 3D action segments of the game mostly just serve as the glue for a slew of poorly made, nonsensical, incredibly tedious, and randomly strung together mini-games and quick time events. Want to talk to someone? Time for a horrible mini-game to see how you'll respond. Need a bridge to continue on your quest? Here comes another uninspired series of button presses to complete to create one. While there are a large variety of mini-games and quick time events in the game, you will still end up playing the same ones over and over again. Not only are these events and mini-games not fun to play, they serve to completely destroy any semblance of fun or pacing the 3D-action part of the game tries to provide.

This game is clearly a rushed mess, and perhaps should have taken a nod from the Superman Returns video game and not been released until The Golden Compass inevitable DVD release. If Shiny had been given more time to work on this game, I really think that it could have been at least a somewhat enjoyable experience. In the game's current form though, I would strongly urge anyone interested in playing it to reconsider. While the movie may end up being great, the game should probably just be laid to rest atop the thousands of copies of E.T. that are rumored to be buried in a New Mexico landfill.

By Adam Brown
CCC Freelance Writer

Features:

  • Authenticity to the movie: The official video game of The Golden Compass movie from New Line Cinema brings to life characters, locations, and scenes sure to captivate movie fans around the world as well as delivering film footage to guide you through the journey.
  • Vivid characters are brought to interactive life: Featuring the likenesses of the movie's impressive cast, which includes Nicole Kidman as Mrs. Coulter, Daniel Craig as Lord Asriel, and newcomer Dakota Blue Richards as Lyra Belacqua.
  • Heroic action sequences: Travel into the frozen north as the rebellious and headstrong heroine Lyra who uses her cunning to evade enemies. Or charge forward as her powerful friend and protector Iorek - a giant armored bear able to overcome any challenge with his brute strength.
  • Discover a powerful bond greater than friendship. Experience the collaborative bond between Lyra and her unique animal-companion Pan who has the ability to morph into four different creatures to help Lyra navigate her way around obstacles throughout her perilous journey.
  • Explore a parallel universe: Immerse yourself in the world of The Golden Compass movie and discover 11 otherworldly vistas, including locations not seen in the theatrical release.
  • Use quick wit to discover and evade. Participate in a variety of embedded mini-games to help Lyra gain further information about her expedition and avoid enemy confrontation.
  • The Golden Compass will lead the way. Use the truth-telling Golden Compass to solve in-game puzzles and unlock bonus content allowing players to explore the worlds as seen in the movie.

    RATING OUT OF 5
    RATING DESCRIPTION
    1.5
    Graphics
    The game's adequate looking backgrounds are littered with some of the worst looking characters this side of the Dreamcast.
    2.2
    Control
    With terrible hit detection and somewhat buggy context sensitive inputs, Golden Compass just isn't a fun game to control.
    3.8
    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    With good music and voice over talent from the movie, this is definitely one of the major highlights of this game.
    1.2
    Play Value
    This game is just really no fun to play. You are constantly forced to play terrible minigames and quick time events that take you out of the experience.
    1.7
    Overall Rating - Avoid
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
  • Screenshots / Images
    The Golden Compass screenshot - click to enlarge The Golden Compass screenshot - click to enlarge The Golden Compass screenshot - click to enlarge The Golden Compass screenshot - click to enlarge The Golden Compass screenshot - click to enlarge The Golden Compass screenshot - click to enlarge The Golden Compass screenshot - click to enlarge The Golden Compass screenshot - click to enlarge The Golden Compass screenshot - click to enlarge The Golden Compass screenshot - click to enlarge The Golden Compass screenshot - click to enlarge The Golden Compass screenshot - click to enlarge

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