Shrek the Third Review
It's the Summer of the trilogy, with Spider-Man 3 kicking it off, followed by Pirates 3, and now Shrek 3. And just like the movie industry, the videogame industry follows the same trend with game iterations of each movie. All were surprised to find out the three aforementioned movies were lackluster, but there wasn't much of that surprise going on when it came down to the games (with the exception of Spider-Man 3). On top of Spidey, Shrek is yet another enormous property Activision has the rights to publish games under, and while they've never been critically hailed, they have been a good source of revenue. In this case, Shrek 3 is no different, as it is about as generic and plain as an adventure game can get.
Just by looking at Shrek's graphics you already know the type of adventure you can expect - a boring one. The PSP version is essentially a carbon copy of the PS2 version, with visuals that are somehow worse - as if the visuals of the PS2 game were the least bit taxing. The graphics and gameplay go hand in hand, as they're both very uninspired. By today's standards, Shrek the Third wouldn't have looked good even 4 years ago, let alone today. It features mediocre character detail, and even less detailed environments.
The game is very constricted, and incredibly linear, which totally diminishes any kind of freedom of exploration. So, unlike other movie licensed games, Shrek offers little in the way of an expansive feeling. The texture detail is very bland, and it sure would've been nice to see a bit more attention to detail in the game. Likewise, for some awkward reason, the framerate stutters quite often - it's awkward because Shrek the Third is not a hardware tasking title that is supposed to have slowdown. Hell, it should run at 60 frames per second, since Shaba made it look so simple. Shrek the Third is most certainly not a good looking game.
Furthermore, Shrek doesn't play any better, either. Because its environments are so constrained and linear, it offers very little for those looking for a challenge. Then again, ideally, the people who will play this game are not the kind of gamers who are looking for a challenge, as Shrek is clearly targeted towards kids. Regardless, the game's boring combat system makes it nothing more than a button masher. Its core gameplay is something that would've been barely worthwhile on older consoles, seeing as how it consists of nothing more than collecting items and making it to the finish. The objectives are boring, and the puzzles are weak. There are nearly 30 stages in the game, but each stage will take you no more than 10 minutes to complete (and that's if you play slow). Figure that, Shrek is a 4-5 hour game, at best.
It loosely follows the storyline of the movie, with additional plotline bits added. It would've been nice to see the game unravel with clips from the movie, but instead we are treated to stick-theater cutscenes, where all we see are stickly puppet-like caricatures bouncing around, with a narrator voicing over. The only redeeming aspect to the game is the fact that it lets you play with a variety of characters other than Shrek, and they include Donkey, Puss in Boots (the best character in the game), Fiona, Sleeping Beauty, and Arthur. All characters control differently, and have their own individual strengths and weaknesses. Though the controls, overall, can sometimes feel a little unresponsive and clumsy. And that's about all there is to say about Shrek the Third - your kids will enjoy it only if they can't differentiate between a good game and a bad one.
The sound may be the game's worst trait. You see, the common practice for movie-licensed videogames is that they have to feature the actors from the actual movie doing the voices for the videogame. Shrek the Third doesn't have that. It has sound-alike voice overs, who don't even sound that great. A lot of the actors in the movie have some pretty distinct voices, which makes it harder to replicate them. Shrek the Third attempts to pull it off, but falls flat most of the time. On occasion, some of the dialogue can sound moderately convincing, but most of the times you can tell it just isn't right. And as far as the music goes...well, I'll be perfectly honest when I say that I haven't heard background tunes this generic since, well...ever. Oh, and if that wasn't bad; the audio of the PSP version is clearly worse in quality than that of the PS2 game. Burn.
I'll reiterate my previous comment: Shrek the Third is best served to those who haven't yet grasped the idea of a bad game and a good game. Children under the ages of 8 will probably find it reasonably fun, but parents might question the fact that Shrek is awfully violent in this game, as he mashes and beats up on every enemy to come across him. Due to that reason, Shrek the Third is actually rated E10, so if you're a parent who is concerned about the content their kids play, you have been forewarned.
Overall, Shrek the Third is not a very good game. It's easily the worst of the summer trilogy titles (Pirates, Spidey, Shrek), which is sort of apt, seeing as how it was also the worst among the competing trilogy movies. Poor visuals, dated gameplay, and horrible audio really make this one a game to avoid.
6/27/2007 Arnold Katayev