Shrek 2
Game Info
Platform(s)
PS2, GC, Xbox
Publisher
Activision
Developer
Luxoflux
Genre
Adventure
Official Website
ESRB Rating
Comic Mischief, Violence
 
Grade
The Good

• Good use of a license
• Hero Time breaks up the main game with minigames
• You can play with up to four people

The Bad

• Graphics have some rough edges
• Camera and A.I. issues in certain instances
• More for the casual or younger market

 
Grade
B

When it comes to videogames, movie tie-ins are a dime a dozen. They're generally like the rest of the marketing swag that gets brought out to the stores - a flash-in-the-pan that takes the 15 minutes of fame to garner sales, only to have the excess gather dust in the discount bin for years to come. So, when a game based on the sequel to the animated "fairy tale" that was Shrek comes out, one has to wonder if it's even worth the time or effort. Especially considering how poorly the first game was received. This time around, though, quality-developer Luxoflux (of Vigilante 8 and True Crime: Streets of LA) has put some good effort in making a game that's worth the name of the license.

To coincide with the story of the sequel, Shrek 2 has players take on the role of the big green ogre as he travels to Far Far Away to meet Fiona's royal parents, and... well, I don't want to spoil too much of the game or movie's story. Let's just say that there's enough story to keep players moving along. Unlike most standard adventure titles, this time around you aren't just controlling one character, but a group of four. Each of the group members has different skills and attributes, including the power and speed of their attacks or the height at which they can jump. Each level tends to give you different characters, so you'll find yourself running around with Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, the Gingerbread Man and Puss in Boots, to name a few. Because each of the characters has different attributes, you'll have to take their skills into consideration when moving through levels, as each of the levels is designed to make you use all of your party members to get through.

Each level presents you with a number of goals to finish, some of which are required, while others are purely optional. Completionists will find more than enough here to do and even re-do if you miss it the first time through. While there is a good bit of item collecting, platform jumping and trap avoiding, there is also a good deal of combat. Combat itself is pretty simple, which is actually to the game's benefit. You can deliver canned combos or jump attack and each of your allies has special attacks and skills that can be used, including Fiona's ability to slow time or Donkey's powerful kick.

To break from the standard adventuring, the game throws in the occasional "Hero Time", where one of your team gets to go solo. These solo bits often play out like mini-games, including the button-pressing singing of Fiona, Panzer Dragoon-like flying of Donkey on the dragon or just beating up and tossing a drunker brawl into a paddy wagon with Shrek. I found these "side events" to be a great diversion, keeping the main gameplay from getting too stale or repetitive.

One of the nicer aspects of the game is the ability to play it co-op with up to four players. This in itself lends an almost party-game quality to the title. Playing Shrek 2 with a couple friends makes the trip kind of fun, and to be honest, probably a little less frustrating. Not to say that the game proves to be hard or challenging, but there can be times where the ally AI can force odd situations. One complaint I would have is that if you're allies are fighting and you run off to get something to finish a goal, like say the pieces of the broken Humpty Dumpty, you're stuck with them on the same screen until they're finished in combat. If one of them happens to get knocked out and you're out of heal potions, you're stuck in the area, unable to go elsewhere.

Visually, Shrek 2 looks good, but not without some things that prevent it from being great. The game features the wonderful color palette, character and set designs from the movies. In fact, the game does an excellent job at capturing the feel and look of the movies. Levels are designed well and sport a number of nice effects to accent the characters and level designs. It's impressive to see large levels with a lot of things going on and a sizable number of enemies onscreen, especially since you already have four people of your own running around. One of the more impressive levels is Far Far Away, which has the feel of a Grand Theft Auto with all the people roaming around with no framerate issues. It must be said, though, the upon closer inspection, some of the models have some rough edges and sport some noticeable jaggies, but these only rear their ugly head in story sequences and can be pretty much ignored.

The audio portion for Shrek 2 is pretty spot on with lots of well-realized vocal work, sound effects and a pretty strong soundtrack. The effects for the game are taken from the same standard pool of adventure effects, but fit well into the theme of the game and the soundtrack, while nondescript, plays to the mood of the story quite well without ever overshadowing the gameplay. The voiceacting, while obviously not featuring the high-dollar talent from the movie, features a number of sound-alikes that manage to do the job well. In fact, if you're not paying a lot of attention to it, you'll never really notice the difference and be pleased with a lot of the in-game banter.

I'll be honest, for the target market that Shrek 2 courts, this game is pretty fun and a lot of enjoyment can be had with it. Older or more hardcore gamers are probably going to scoff at the title, but there's something to be said about an adventure title that allows you to play with four people at one time. Compared to other adventure/platforming titles, it may not be considered the cream of the crop, but for what it's worth, its still pretty fun. If you're a fan of Shrek or have some younger gamers around, this is sure to be fun.

- - Kinderfeld

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