An Ogre and his friends – for the third time
May 25, 2007 – Ah yes, Shrek the Third hit theaters and pleased fans both young and old. The loveable tale of the ogre who wanted to be left alone but found companionship on several different levels has been delighting us for years. Over the last two films, we have watched the sour ogre grow into the hero he never thought that he would become. There have been bumps along the way, like a few bad jokes that only the characters seem to have gotten and the larger than life Fairy Godmother debatable as a villain.
However, everything considered, the first two films brought the level of kid humor to a different level that enabled parents to enjoy the film as well. The third installment looks to raise the bar once more, and what better way to raise the bar than by raising the bar across multiple mediums – like a new video game. So does this third outing of the ogre and his trusty steed have layers like an onion or a parfait?
Shrek the Third brings the story of the film onto our television screens way before the actual film will. Of course, this is done cleverly by giving you a little, while hiding a lot, of the actual story. Of course, if you watch the trailers of the film, then you have the gist of the happenings this time around.
The dashingly debonair mommy’s boy, Prince Charming, is tired of being ridiculed for being just Prince Charming, the same mockery that Princess Fiona left for the ogre Shrek. Since that day, Charming’s life has not been much better and now, with the help of his villainous friends, they are seeking their happily ever after. How would they go about obtaining their means of happiness? Yep – you guessed it, defeat Shrek and his friends and take over the kingdom of Far Far Away. This is easily done, especially since our heroes Shrek, Donkey, and Puss in Boots are on a new quest in order to find a kid named Arthur, or Artie as he likes to be called. Artie’s purpose, once Shrek finds him, is to become the king of in Far Far Away.
Nevertheless, what kind of video game would it be if we were not allowed an opportunity to play as some of our favorite Shrek characters? Actually, you get to play as many of your favorites, including Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, and Puss in Boots, each with their own simple to enact special move. These moves are available once you have accumulated enough energy points. These moves also are caked in the style of humor that has become associated with the Shrek franchise. The combat system itself is reduced to the one-two punch mechanic of several beat ’em up games. This, of course, can be a great thing, specifically for inexperienced young players and the less gaming inclined adult, but on the other side of the enjoyment coin, if you are a seasoned player, the simplicity may start to drive you bonkers. That being said, the simple tactics of Shrek will not hinder those players that are just looking for something to play and have fun. In fact, visiting several locations from the two previous films that were not touched on in the recent film will open up many possibilities for the Shrek humor.
Unfortunately, this is where the general praise for Shrek stops. While this game can easily be considered a straight up point A to point B action game, the lack of multiplayer in the game seems like a really poor decision. After all, with a large cast of memorable characters that we know and love, why not include that option to have up to three other players join in on the action while you beat up baddies along your adventure? Despite this huge oversight, there was an attempt to incorporate this craze into another game. Quickly, this interactive level of finishing moves could become as overused and detrimental to gaming the same way the bullet time slow motion stuff almost did. Oh, and by the way, there is even a bullet time move that Shrek and Fiona can do as well. So, at least recycling seems to be the norm. While both of these gaming techniques are renowned in other mediums, sometimes certain games should not follow the norm.
The faults and follies of Shrek continue into the characters’ animations. Whereas the environments look decent, though nothing spectacular, the characters themselves look as though they have been put through the proverbial ringer. Shrek constantly has a half baked look about him while in game. Our furry friends like Puss in Boots and Donkey appear to have been matted down like a wet newspaper. Now, while this may sound horrible, I have seen worse, as I am sure several of you reading this have. The individual animations of the characters are actually a saving point for the game. Although nothing truly authentic, it does at least appear that they paid attention to the movements of the film counterparts. Whereas acquiring the actual voices of the characters could have been a highlight of the game, we are given sound-a-likes of the stars instead. While these sound-a-likes do an above and beyond job, more so than some other voice over games, their attempts do fall flat on occasion.
Shrek the Third appears to be carrying the movie curse mantel at least one more time. There are several attempts at greatness, like the mini-games that can be enjoyed with your friends. Yet, the mini-games are more of a distraction than anything else. While a huge audience may not enjoy Shrek’s third movie based adventure all that much, the simplicity and over the top antics of the characters will keep the diehard fans of the loveable ogre pleasantly entertained.