The green ogre is back, this time in a 3D platform game inspired by the 2004 computer animated film starring the voices of Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, and Eddie Murphy. Unlike the console versions of the title, being developed by Luxoflux, this KnowWonder Digital Mediaworks-designed PC adventure is aimed at a slightly younger audience and features different levels from its console counterparts. Once Shrek and Princess Fiona return from their honeymoon, they are surprised to find a note from Fiona's parents inviting them to visit their home in Far Far Away. The only problem is Fiona's parents are expecting Prince Charming instead of an ogre, causing some turmoil in the newlyweds' life. Players will guide Shrek, Donkey, and an assortment of Far Far Away residents as they complete a number of objectives to set things right again. The game introduces new environments, characters, and story twists that help expand on the movie and bring the enchanted land of Far Far Away to life.
The jolly green giant Shrek has had a rather turbulent videogame career. His original debut on consoles in late 2001 was an uninspired action adventure title based on DreamWorks' parody of all things Disney. Shrek suffered from the same gaping pit that traps so many movie-to-game licenses -- it was rushed to coincide with the movie, without any thought to content or playability.
However, as it is with all popular franchises these days, Shrek recently spawned a sequel in the form of Shrek 2. Fortunately, Shrek 2 stars a new developer/publisher cast. Hoping to shake the first videogame's bad image, Activision assigned Luxoflux (True Crime) to the task of crafting the new Shrek experience. The end product is a surprisingly fun and decent action adventure game -- at least on consoles. You can read about it right here.
Don't be fooled. The PC title has nothing in common with its console brethren besides for similar storyline elements and characters. Gone is the multiple character dynamic, the multiplayer mode, decent production values, interesting (if not particularly hard) puzzles, humorous mini-games, and most things that you'd associate with Shrek 2. Instead, PC gamers have a game that belongs in Shrek's swamp rather than an optical drive.
Shrek 2 loosely follows the plot of the film. Shrek, Fiona, and Donkey set out on a journey to visit the in-laws in Far, Far Away Land. However, due to Shrek's ogre-ish nature, a family fights ensues. It's up to Shrek to find a happy ending for his bride. The game presents a very brief outline of the movie's story and chooses to take a few liberties with events and locals (as one would expect). Theoretically designed as a children's title, Shrek 2 isn't very complex. In fact, your actions consist solely of running, jumping, or smashing objects. That sums up the Shrek 2 experience. There's no substance, only constant clicking of the mouse button.
In the hopes of avoiding a long, unnecessary rant about why you shouldn't play this game, we've supplied you with list of the game's attributes.
You get to play as three different characters: Shrek, Donkey, and Puss in Boots.
You ride around on a giant gingerbread man. This entails kicking knights and throwing trolleys at bridges whilst avoiding milk bombs. It's quite amusing.
The final boss fight entails stunning the Fairy Godmother with reflected magic spells and then throwing watermelon, corn, and tomatoes at her to deplete her health bar. It's extremely easy and silly. Witnessing the absurdity of it all is your only reward for finishing the game.
The controls can't be configured. There is no controller support. You're forced to use WASD and the left and right mouse buttons. The left button attacks -- you click it so often you'll feel like you're playing Diablo (except without having any fun). The right button jumps. Correctly timing a double jump, which requires an instantaneous double tap, isn't easy to perform with the control setup.
The gameplay is incredibly easy and repetitive. There is no difficulty curve. Just click the left mouse button to kill everyone around you. Platforming is a pain due to the control scheme. Levels are primarily the same -- constant attacking and jumping. There are hardly any puzzles (and those that exist are of the "find item or switch" or "kill all enemies" variety).
Throughout the game, Shrek and company collect coins. These can be used to purchase potions, which can turn your foes into frogs, make them fall asleep, stop them with stench, shrink them, or transform them into friends. These can also be used to make you invisible to enemy eyes. But, you never have to use them. It's actually easier to just punch enemies to death.
Besides for physical appearance and movement speed, there is no real difference between playable characters (except Puss can climb poles and Donkey can kick stuff).
Textures are very bland and stretched. Animations are occasionally awkward (did you know horses could strafe?). Shrek and company will often pull themselves up on invisible ledges or fail to grab pipes or zip lines. Clipping is also a problem.
The camera will make you want to vomit. While the camera is fairly standard (it's connected to your mouse movement), it suffers from a nausea-inducing delay.
The voice acting is atrocious -- characters barely resemble their movie counterparts. Delivery is extremely stilted. The dialogue is poorly written and doesn't even sound like what the characters would say.
KnowWonder liberally applied padding to Shrek 2. You'll have to fight your way out of the same areas two or three times (once with each character) with little change to the physical environment. You'll even have to watch the same cut scene from multiple viewpoints.
As you might infer from the handy list, Shrek 2 doesn't contain many positive attributes. It's really really bad. There's simply no other way to describe this product. In fact, playing it makes me like the movie less.
The combat is insanely repetitive and easy. Besides for visual diversity, there's no reason for Shrek 2 to possess multiple characters or spells. The only difficult part of the game, besides for hoping your stomach survives the extremely bumpy ride (especially when you control the giant gingerbread man), is a battle with Puss in Boots. That's simply because the trick to defeating him is so easy it's counterintuitive.
Having played through Shrek 2 on the consoles, I'm really surprised by the quality presented in the PC title. Shrek 2 lacks anything that could be called substance or fun. Between collision glitches that continually prevent you from making jumps, a horrible camera, boring and repetitive gameplay, and shoddy production values, Shrek 2 can't be recommended to anyone. Frustration caused by the controls and camera will plague children, and adults will be bored by Shrek 2's simplicity. It isn't even intentionally funny.
People who downloaded Shrek 2 have also downloaded:
Shrek 2: Team Action, Shrek SuperSlam, Tarzan Action Game (a.k.a. Disney's Tarzan), Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2: The Game, Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island (a.k.a. Sonic 3D Blast), Sonic & Knuckles Collection, Taz: Wanted
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