|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.
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.
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.
Perhaps the worst offense this game makes comes in the Wii version. Since most of the motion-sensing controls are so poorly done, the game compensates by letting you just press buttons instead. For example, to attack your enemies, you can either shake the Wii-mote or completely ignore these tacked-on motion controls by just pressing the A button. While the game doesn't force you to use its flawed motion sensing controls during most of your experience, it will during Lyra's evasion mini-games and also when tightrope walking. These portions of the game can be completed, despite the frustratingly sluggish controls, but they definitely make playing them more difficult than they need to be.
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.
CCC Freelance Writer