The Golden Compass Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | Wii | PS2 | DS
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

Through mini-games, platforming, puzzling, and fighting, The Golden Compass packs plenty of variety in its play. The problem, however, is that none of the gameplay is particularly interesting or fun. Iorek's battles are extremely simple and not very exciting, and despite the diverse offering of other mini-game challenges, none are very good. When Lyra "fights," it's by way of the player following prompts to make her simply dodge her foes, and even when she gets a bit more aggressive it's for a boring game, like spitting pits off a rooftop onto clueless passerby.

The Golden Compass screenshot

The title's worst offender of creatively-deficient gaming is the conversation "deception" games. In order to get out of tight spots when talking to suspicious adults, you need to perform mindless tasks to successfully complete the conversations. These include symbol matching, catching dropping balls, pushing balls into holes billiards style, and other such inane challenges that'd make even the Wii's or DS's worst mini-game compilation offerings seem hugely entertaining. They're just not much fun and, unfortunately, they form a lot of The Golden Compass' gameplay. Another of the game's many mini tasks has you deciphering questions with the titular tool by matching symbols with their potential text meanings; a symbol of a tree on the compass, for example, may represent the word "shelter" in one of the title's many riddles. The compass questions are a bit more challenging and fun, but don't nearly make up for the shortcomings of the other mini-games.

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Despite its uninspired gameplay, the simple tasks and challenges may appeal to a younger audience, especially those that've seen the film. But if you're part of the "+" demographic in The Golden Compass' "E10+" rating, then you'll likely be bored soon after Iorek's opening wolf-whuppin' battle sequence. To the game's credit, it does represent the movie pretty well through it's visual presentation, cinematic score, and likenesses and voice work provided by many of the film's stars. The movie clips are also a nice touch. The film's and book's youngest fans may be entertained by this one for several hours, but most Xbox 360 owners will only see The Golden Compass as a chance to score and easy 700 or so Achievement Points--a "Golden" opportunity for greedy game-point-hungering gamers.

By Matt Cabral
CCC Freelance Writer

Features:

  • Authenticity to the movie: The official videogame 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.
  • 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.
  • Screen Resolution: Up to 1080p (Full HDTV, Widescreen).


    RATING OUT OF 5
    RATING DESCRIPTION
    3.5
    Graphics
    Not great, but a good representation of the film.
    3.5
    Control
    Switching from Pan's various forms is fluid and intuitive. Limited camera control.
    4.0
    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    Plenty of voice support from the film's cast.
    2.5
    Play Value
    Mostly an uninspired bore for gamers above the age of 10, but Compass' young admirers might enjoy the simple fun. Some easy 360 Achievements.
    3.0
    Overall Rating - Fair
    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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