When city bear Boog is led into the forest by a mule deer named Elliot, it becomes Open Season for any unlucky hunters who happen to cross the bears path. Raised by Beth the park ranger, Boog is not used to living in the wild, and must tap into his instinctual abilities to make it back to Beth's garage in one piece. Players will guide Boog and Elliot through the forest using their environment to scare hunters away before they make a rug out of Boog's domesticated hide.
Players may throw skunk bombs, hurl rabbits, enlist squirrels to fire acorns at their foes, and perform many other pranks that will have the hunters headed for the hills. Gamers can play alone or challenge friends to compete or cooperate in a variety of mini-games such as rolling in a giant snowball, riding rapids on a floating outhouse, taking a nice leisurely mine cart ride, and more.
The odd couple of Elliot and Boog (a crazy mule deer and a 900-pound Grizzly bear, respectively) team up with woodland creatures to form a ragtag army against hunters and survive "open season." With the aid of dozens of forest denizens, they hope to reach their ultimate goal: Boog's return home. Martin Lawrence and Ashton Kutcher reprise their lead roles in the game, and the original soundtrack from the film completes the cinematic experience. Open Season may be too simplistic for seasoned gamers, but this cross-console release is the perfect kid-friendly tie-in for a family film.
To solve missions and find his way home, Boog chunks rabbits, squirrels, skunks, and even Elliot to make his way through levels. Frequent tutorials guide the action and cue players with clues on how to progress to the next area. Being good-natured animals, Boog and Elliot help the skunks find their kids, assist a beaver in finding a pair of dentures, and aid ducks by obtaining the "quack simulator." Occasionally, Boog employs toned-down stealth moves to disguise himself as various shrubberies and sneak up on hunters to gain the upper hand. Once in range, he roars to scare "weekend warriors" -- or he can toss them around until they cower in fear and are too afraid to shoot. While Open Season does employ some Loony Tunes-esque physics, events are scripted to mimic the film's PG-rated cartoon violence. Damage to Boog's life bar is lenient and encourages continuous play instead of putting down the controller in frustration. Even if players aren't extensively experienced with videogames, everyone will enjoy solving missions, collecting items, and the various animal personalities.
The only issue with Open Season is the linear and repetitive nature of the levels. Although the Alaskan tundra is a distinctive setting, the game mechanics oscillate between collecting missions and roller-coaster simulations. Running Boog through too-similar environments, no matter how good they may look, is unfulfilling. Luckily, the movie-familiar characters that Boog meets along the way prevent tedium and bring the forest animals' concerns, demands, and personalities to each unique situation; the game's 125 film-based missions play through very quickly. A variety of options accessible from the main menu -- like replaying favorite scenes, joining friends in seven minigames, and adding new skills to Boog's repertoire -- help extend the game. In addition, Ranger Beth's scrapbook lets you collect merit badges to unlock wildlife facts.
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