Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Review
Dreamworks has had a solid line-up of animated movies as of late, enough to compete with the big boys at Pixar. But, unfortunately, those successes don't translate into the videogame world. While Kung-Fu Panda turned out to be a surprisingly decent game, Madagascar 2 is quite the opposite, as it's filled with redundant and juvenile tasks that even my eight year old cousin thought were boring. But, to his credit, he is extremely smart for his age. Still, Madagascar 2 could've been something better if it didn't treat its audience like a bunch of toddlers first learning how to play with their blocks, and that the triangle piece goes into the triangular cutout, the square goes into the squared cutout, and the circle goes into the circular cutout.
When you first start the game, you think to yourself "oh, okay...a training stage. It's practically a requirement, so let me complete this and see what the adventure is like." And then you realize that what you played wasn't actually a training stage and that it was an indication of what the rest of the game feels like. "Okay, so maybe it'll get better. Maybe it won't be this boring and simple." Well it is. Because I dosed off in the middle of my office space, only to be woken up by a phone call from my mother, who asked me to drive her to an appointment.
I grabbed myself some coffee, sat back in the chair, and within 10 minutes I began to feel that heavy feeling again. I felt like my head suddenly began to weigh twice as much, and the coffee didn't help, either. And why would the coffee help, anyways? I was playing Killzone 2 earlier in the day alive and brimming with energy, until I realized I had to do some actual work and keep playing Madagascar. Since the coffee didn't work, I'd switch between my PS3s every now and then, with one running Madagascar, and the other Killzone 2. It worked, because I was able to progress in Madagascar, even if they were in bursts.
You see, the biggest problem with Madagascar 2 is that it's absurdly simple, to the point where it's actually a chore to play the game. It's like that one friend you have who you always think is asking rhetorical questions, because they're just so stupid, but in reality...he's being serious. That's how I feel about this game. The tasks are just so simple, that it's almost painful to have to finish them. And while I realize this is a game targeted at kids, developers should be challenging the young minds of children, and not creating software that'll stagnate them. When I was eight, I was playing Zelda: A Link to the Past, Street Fighter II Turbo, and Final Fantasy games. In my childhood, I wouldn't be caught dead playing a game as simplistic and generic as this.
The other problem with the game is how poor the pacing is, as the game constantly interrupts you after every 30 second mission you complete. Further on into the game the objectives get a little longer, but the amount of interruptions are still too frequent and annoying. The reason for the often interruptions is because much of Madagascar 2 consists more of mini-game-like missions, than any actual adventure. Because that is the case, the game is good for up to four players to enjoy the Africa Arcade mode, where the multiplayer games are. But chances are you probably won't care much for this game no matter what your age is.
As far as graphics go, the game captures the look of the movie fairly well. Madagascar 2 looks surprisingly crisp and clean, with some pretty nice textures here and there, a stable framerate, good game engine that doesn't exhibit any issues like pop-up, and is free of aliasing problems. I did notice that the animations, especially during cut-scenes, can be quite stiff, and perhaps some of the background details and character details could've used more polish. Lastly, the game uses poorly compressed videos of the actual movie throughout the story, and that to me is a major negative in this generation.
Normally, when movies get turned into games, the actor behind each character often contributes to the game and reprises his/her role. Such is not the case for this Madagascar game, as none of the actors from the movie appear in the game, leaving the voice work to be done by sound-alikes...who don't sound anything like the actors whose shoes they fill. Maybe the David Schwimmer sound-alike does a pretty decent job, but it ends there. With a plethora of sound glitches, frequently repeated audio clips, and a soundtrack that seems to consist of one tune...this is pretty bad stuff.
By now, it should be painfully obvious, don't bother with this game. If you have children, get them something else. Madagascar 2 is neither a good game, nor a learning experience for your young one. Chances are, your kid's capable of playing something more advanced than Madagascar 2, because this is about as simplistic as it can get. Okay, so, there are some platforms to jump on, and if you miss, you lose. But none of those jumps are remotely difficult to make, and if you lose, you start right back from where you left of. There are no redeeming qualities to the gameplay, or the sound. The visuals are decent, but nothing fancy. Steer clear.
12/29/2008 Arnold Katayev