Following the May 18th release of Shrek the Third, the same titles game will be available just a week later on the 25th. The ESRB rating of E for 10+ may make you think that it isn’t too much of a child’s game, but it is exactly that. The only reason any age is specified is because of violence in the game, which is simply knocking someone out. But that is a moot point.
For a children’s game, Shrek is ultimately a very entertaining experience. The recent demo available on Xbox Live Marketplace proved just that. The one playable level made it fairly clear what kind of game. Actually, the control scheme did that. The left analog stick to move about, Y button to lift objects, X and B to attack, A to jump, right trigger to block and left trigger for special abilities. You do the math.
The lack of camera movement was at first frustrating, but at least in the demo there really was no issue with it. If the rest of the game pulls it off without a hitch, all the better. The simple button scheme was strangely a nice change, and took only one look to get it right.
Graphically, the game is not stunning. It was a shame looking at Shrek and not seeing the same resemblance as his movie-going partner, who receives star-studded looks. It isn’t bad; don’t get me wrong, but the glimmer of hope to see a movie and game, both with 3d animation using the same engine and looking great was beat to death rather quickly. The graphics exceed that of what the Xbox and PS2 can muster, but still.
But, as expected, Shrek’s strength lies not in the gameplay or controls. It lies in the characters. Though no child is likely to pick up on the fact that none of the voices are performed by the actual movie actors (they are very similar), it’s an experience to watch. Like a 5-10 hour interactive movie, the story will unfold and the player gets to be part of it.
True, the repetitive gameplay will probably become tedious, but for a child playing, each progressing step in the game is a chance to hear more funny lines from Shrek, Donkey or the cat with boots.
So if you have kids and need them to shut up and leave you alone for a good hour or two, this game is for you. Then again, you might want to make sure not to go see the movie so that they fully enjoy it. That is, if you want your kids to enjoy it.