Brave: The Video Game Review for Xbox 360

Brave: The Video Game Review for Xbox 360

A Run-Of-The-Mill Adventure

As a critic who’s had to endure the painful experience of reviewing the awful games based on the Transformers films as well as a handful of Harry Potter licensed games, I wasn’t really looking forward to spending a few hours with Brave: The Video Game. The problem with games like this is the developers are given a very short period of time to churn the game out so they can get the game out at the same time as the film it’s cross-promoting. And this means corners are cut, bugs are left unsquashed and features aren’t really fully developed. Thankfully, Brave isn’t quite as bad as the shlock that tends to get pushed on unsuspecting consumers around this time of year, but it’s also not very good. Here’s why.

Brave: The Video Game Screenshot

Because the target audience here is younger gamers, and, more specifically, fans of the animated film this game is based off of, the gameplay is pretty straightforward. You control Merida, a young woman with some rather incredible skills in archery, so her main weapon is a bow. Should an enemy get a little too close, you also have a sword to take care of them. The added layer of depth and strategy comes with the different charms that let you bestow your arrows with elemental effects (fire, air, ice, and earth). They will come in handy when you go up against creatures with resistances to certain elements, forcing you to mix up your strategy a bit in order to defeat them.

When you’re not fighting, you’re going to be spending a majority of your time traversing a decent sized world. It lacks a lot of the detail required to make it a visually interesting journey, but at least, for the most part, the platforming isn’t too bad. Running along cliffs and jumping from one platform to the next isn’t the issue here, it’s really the god-awful camera that ends up being your worst enemy. It chugs and stutters and seems to have quite a bit of trouble maintaining a decent focus on the character you control.

Brave: The Video Game Screenshot

The option to upgrade your powers is a nice addition, as it adds a sense of progression, the sense that you’re becoming more powerful the longer you play. You receive gold coins by performing certain feats and destroying objects scattered about the environments that can be invested into upgrading a few dozen upgrades. The powers at your disposal aren’t too shabby either, including summoning monsters to fight by your side and many other abilities that are all based on the four elements. The customization doesn’t end there, as you can find and equip better items, including various bows, swords, and costumes.

If you have a PlayStation Move controller, you can take advantage of the archery minigame, and those who have Kinect can do something similar. Like most games that utilize the two different control methods, they each feel a little awkward. The minigames include Quiver Limit, which gives you a limited number of arrows that you can use during each round. Then there’s Survival, where you have to hit moving wooden targets before they reach you. The final minigame is called Quick Draw, and it’s basically more of the same only with a time limit. There’s really nothing worthwhile here outside of a brief distraction or a little target practice, and it was obviously just added so they could slap “Kinect/Move Compatible!” on the case.

Brave: The Video Game Screenshot

You can go at it alone or with a friend, with one player controlling Merida and the other as Will O’ the Wisp. The second player is in more of a supportive role here, as you assist the first player when you’re needed. The best thing about this is another player can jump in and out of the game at any time—there’s no loading or anything to break the immersion. The co-op proves that this is very much the type of game that’s perfect for a parent and their child, so if you fall into that category you probably won’t leave disappointed.

Like any good adventure platformer, every so often you’ll come across puzzles. Because of the target audience, these puzzles function less as a brain teaser and more like a brief respite from the combat and platforming. I wish they had been a little more difficult, but it’s understandable that none are too challenging. For the most part, they come in the form of environmental puzzles that include Merida’s three brothers. You’ll usually end up arranging them to trigger platforms that gain you access to other parts of the levels. They’re sprinkled on as to keep the game from feeling to repetitive and they succeed, somewhat.

Voice actor Kelly Macdonald returns as the voice of Merida, so that’s good. She can sometimes be a little difficult to understand and a few more lines would’ve been welcome so we’re not constantly hearing the same dialogue over and over again. The soundtrack is good, much like the film, but the sound effects, specifically the creature noises, sound a little bland.

Brave: The Video Game Screenshot

The story takes roughly eight hours to complete, and that’s actually not too bad for today’s standards. This makes it a mildly amusing game that can keep you busy over a weekend. The storybook-style cutscenes are one of the game’s strong points; they look great and do a good job of keeping the plot moving at a decent pace.

Once you’ve beaten the game, there’s little reason to return unless you want all the collectibles that are hidden throughout the environments. Because every location is connected by a single hub world—an area called the “Ring of Stones,” that lets you access a new environment once you’ve beaten the previous one—you can revisit completed areas to scour them for their hidden items. As far as licensed games go, this one is largely bug-free. The aforementioned camera issues are a nuisance and there’s a chance you’ll have to contend with some sporadic frame-rate drops, but overall it’s above average for a game like this.

Brave: The Video Game successfully manages to maintain—and in some aspects surpass—the incredibly low bar set by pretty much every other licensed game. This game is only occasionally bad, but its good moments are just as rare. It’s largely a middle-of-the-road affair—a fact that’s reflected in its lower $50 price tag—and an experience you will forget about as quickly as a dream. This really isn’t a bad game, and as far as licensed titles go, there’s a slew of them that are far worse than this. However, just because it’s “okay” doesn’t immediately make it something you should consider for your kid, at least not when there are so many more superior child-friendly games out there. If you want more Brave, I suggest watching the film, but if you’re just looking for something related to the film to play with a child, you could do worse.

A Team Fortress art style would’ve looked great, but unfortunately it all looks uninspired and horribly unpolished. 3.4 Control
Doesn’t control very well, but it’s rarely too frustrating. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Sounds good enough, though outside of Kelly Macdonald’s voice (Merida), nothing really stands out. 3.5 Play Value
You can play the campaign alone or with a friend, but when it’s over, that’s pretty much it. 3.4 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Play as Merida as she embarks on an exciting new adventure!
  • Experience your story alone or with a friend in local co-op.
  • Solve puzzles and use your bow, sword, and special charms to defeat anything that stands in your way.

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