|System: X360, Wii, PS2, PC, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Stormfront Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Sierra||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 5, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Despite all that, the game design is pretty nice and acceptable. It's not a big-budget game so the graphics are not ultra realistic and detailed, but there's a good level of realism in the main characters, the environments, the enemies, and especially the mansion, which looks like in the movie, although less dusty and cluttered. There aren't a whole lot of glitches graphics-wise, which is nice. Also, they included a few cutscenes from the movie itself, which help you understand the events even better. However, this can be seen as a shortcut for the developers, so they wouldn't have to create too many animated cutscenes within the game. Most of the actual movie cutscenes lack the sounds and dialogue and don't quite make sense altogether, unless you've watched the movie first.
The game's soundtrack, although similar to the one in the film, was composed specifically for the game; it works well with the story and brings the fantasy to life. The sound effects are fine as well. What I didn't like was the voice acting, which seemed like another way to keep the budget low. The characters in the game talk just like the ones in the movie. However, they just recorded a few sound clips and threw them here and there; you'll hear them when you interact with objects and sometimes when talking to a character. The rest of the dialogue is just displayed on the screen with subtitles. Most of the time, the voice-over sounded somewhat abrupt and unnatural; the spoken dialogue should have had more rhythm and consistency.
The game also has a very basic local multiplayer mode for up to two players. Here, lots of sprites will be fluttering their wings around; the battle consists in catching as many fairies as possible, sometimes within a time limit, others with a set number of sprites you need to catch. The gameplay happens in just one screen, instead of split-screen mode; this makes both players fight for the same sprites, although it's annoying to try to go somewhere while the other player is pulling towards the other side of the screen. It's not a very exciting multiplayer mode, but it's probably fun enough for kids. You can't play online though, which is just fine.
In conclusion, The Spiderwick Chronicles is a more than decent game that will generally appeal to the younger ones. If you haven't watched the movie, you might feel a bit lost sometimes trying to follow the story. On the other hand, the quest log is very helpful and helps players stay focused on the game's multiple goals. The game is not spectacular but looks and plays well enough to keep the players entertained, and it doesn't entail much frustration, unlike other games of the family action / adventure genre.
CCC Site Director