Bee Movie: it’s not just for kids anymore…well, actually it kind of is
If you are a casual movie go-er, then you have more than likely heard of major film studio DreamWorks and their continued success with high quality games and films. Riding in on the success train is recent animated film Bee Movie whose film release coincided with the video game.
Voiced by famous observation comic, Jerry Seinfeld, and co-starring a wide array of other celebrity voice talents like Oprah Winfrey and John Goodman, Bee Movie puts you in the shoes of Barry Bee Benson. After graduating from three days of Bee College, which is longer than my attendance record, Barry is bothered by the idea of being forced to do only one job for the rest of his life. In an attempt to change his preordained obligations, Barry makes his way out of the hive and thus a truly epic adventure begins.
Bee Movie puts you right in the shoes of Barry as the game begins in the massive sandbox-like world that is the bee hive, which is Barry’s world so to speak. The bee hive is swarming with life, pun intended. Similar to the sandbox style of gameplay found in Grand Theft Auto, the hive is a large, living, and breathing world with tons of bee citizens going about their daily lives. The bee citizens crowd the streets as they walk about. The roads are jam packed with traffic as bees drive to and from work. With the press of a button you can leap into a car and begin driving, even if the car is occupied. Barry does not violently throw the person out of their vehicle though, instead he hops in the back seat and the person without question drives him around. You can only imagine how peculiar that looks until you actually play the game and see for yourself. Awkward car moments aside, there is surprisingly a lot to do in Barry’s world.
Since Barry tends to have the spirit of a long haired hippie, so to speak, he is a non-conformist and wants to live a more fulfilling life with the choice of doing any line of work he darn well pleases. This is where the gameplay actually begins. In the bee hive, you have an assortment of jobs you must complete in order to advance the main storyline. Your fist step is to look at your map in the right corner of the screen which has all available jobs indicated on the map with identifiable logos. What is really inconvenient is there is no one button to press to bring up the map, as looking at the map on the corner screen can be difficult. In order to see a large map, you have to pause the game, scroll down, and select map. This can be tedious and time consuming when you’re doing hurried missions like the Taxi driver sections of the game, as it is easy to get lost in the hive’s complex maze of a city. There are actually a significant amount of jobs that need to be done in the hive, and Barry aims to try them all. The jobs range from Honey Drafter, Honeycomb Collector, Race car or taxi driver, and many more. Each job starts off fairly simple and difficulty increase by a level each time you complete a job. The game obviously took kids into consideration as none of the jobs ever became impossibly difficult. It is after you have completed a set number of jobs that you can move on to advance the story which is located at the exit/entrance to the hive.
I, personally, truly enjoyed myself the very first time I stepped to the exit of the bee hive and from the landing strip I could see the lush world of human civilization in the distance. It was truly an awe inspiring feeling and once you step outside the hive, the game truly begins. Your initially outing is when Barry encounters a group of elite soldier-like bees whose job is to go out into the massively dangerous world and pollinate flowers. The world from this point on is beautifully rendered, and as you stare around the world, you seem truly insignificant in scope, but not in a bad way. You actually realize you are the size of a tiny bee, and the world is indeed dangerous! What is really exciting is how the humans live their lives so realistically. Children run through the parks, others are tossing baseballs, and so much more. There is actually so much activity going on that it is hard to take all in, mostly due to how small you are.
When outside the hive your control scheme changes a bit, but the changes are simple enough and easy to become familiar with. You can barrel roll, perform a quick flight burst, perform a bullet time effect that would challenge Neo himself, and fire your pollinator gun. You have a nice amount of objectives and just as many dangers when outside the hive. With the use of your pollinator gun, you can absorb pollen from a healthy flower and use it to pollinate dead ones, which restores them back to health. It is actually a beautiful thing to see withered flowers majestically rise and fill with vibrant colors. Absorbing pollen with your pollinator also has another use. Bees apparently have a natural enemy, and these horrid insects that constantly threaten bee-kind are called mosquitoes! Mosquitoes often plague the field when you’re outside the hive, and once your in their sight they will quickly open fire on you. You are not defenseless though, as you can absorb pollen from flowers and fire back at them. You have a lock on feature that’s pretty effective, so you will not be forced to shoot mindlessly hoping to hit your target. The game also keeps you busy with lots of things to collect, like honey combs, pollen jack badges, and nectar drops. Nectar drops can be used to purchase things like clothes and new cars. There are also tiny wax statues that when collected are stored in the local museum back at the hive.
In later missions, you eventually become lost in the outside world, and it is up to you traverse through the large human filled world. It’s quite an epic adventure. As if crossing the street in New York isn’t bad enough, try doing it as Barry the bee. When outside you must be aware of everything around you as the entire world poses a threat. One of your most challenging enemies will be the rain itself. When it rains, you must seek shelter immediately or it is game over for Barry. This can be easily avoided by taking shelter under pretty much anything you can get under which is a really neat gimmick. Taking shelter allows you to be pretty clever also. For example, you can hide underneath a human walking with an umbrella or in a trash can, under benches, and so on.
If the aforementioned levels are not fast enough, things really pick up when you’re in a chase sequence. These scenes require you to dart on a linear path through hordes of immediate danger as a directional icon lights up letting you know which direction to lean towards in order to swiftly avoid dangers. I really enjoyed these sections of the game, and dying won’t cause you much grief because checkpoints are plentiful.
Bee Movie is a good weekend rental for the younglings, but not something veteran gamers are going to be too thrilled about. There is a multi-player feature where you can race a friend, but there is really no depth or incentive for it. You are better off chasing bees outside in real life. As a movie based game, I tip my hat to developer Beenox for a job well done considering the subject matter of the game. In some ways it even breaks the movie to game curse but over all doesn’t transcend past a weekend rental. So walk, don’t run, because you may hurt yourself, to your local rental store and pick up your copy today. You won’t feel bad about it in the end.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
The graphics are vibrant and colorful bringing the world to life. 4.0 Control
Controls are responsive except when in vehicles it’s slippery. 5.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
VO’s are great and Jerry does a great job as Barry. 4.0 Play Value
The game offers a lot of side quest that kids may love. 3.0 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.