In addition to the fighting, the four main characters of the story each have their own individual abilities which will aid your party in their journey. Each character serves a specific purpose on the squad. Shrek is the brute of the bunch and his strength will be required to move large objects out of your way like boulders or crates. Fiona is the cunning warrior in the party and her knowledge of battle allows her to light and trigger various explosives in the environment. Puss, being the feline of the bunch, is agile and nimble, allowing him to reach places in the world not accessible to the others. Finally, there is Donkey, who is a (excuse the irony) a donkey and can mule-kick objects to either destroy or reposition them as needed. In addition to their specific abilities, some actions require a certain character for no reason in particular. It doesn’t really make sense, but only Puss can trigger the firing mechanism of a catapult and only Donkey can rotate an object in place. You will run across numerous examples like this throughout the game and often find yourself scratching your head and asking why. The only reason this sort of gameplay exists is to push the focus on the cooperative gameplay; it doesn’t make sense but it perpetuates the gameplay focus of the journey.
Throughout your adventure you will be presented with a wide assortment of puzzles which will challenge you to find and use the right combination of character powers in order to proceed. These puzzles will range from being ridiculously simple to occasionally being downright frustrating. The players’ hands are held through most of the process as the game constantly tells you which characters are necessary as you stand in front of various objects in the game’s environment. If Donkey is needed, he will appear in a thought cloud above your current playable character. This hand-holding may be a bit much for the older crowd, but it helps to move the game along for the younger crowd. In order to help with the more difficult challenges the game offers a hint system via the Three Blind Mice. These little guys appear occasionally and allow the player to spend their earned coins for three levels of hints. Each hint gives a little more information regarding what the player(s) must specifically do in order to proceed and costs a little more than the one before it. The final and most expensive hint from the Third Mouse pretty much spells out exactly what the player needs to do. I will have to admit, I used them at least once or twice in the game though half of the fun is figuring it out on your own.
Perhaps you don’t have anyone to play through the game with. If you happen to be playing by yourself, you can actively switch between the characters at any given time by simply pressing a direction on the d-pad. Your ability to change to another character is limited by the amount of people that you have playing; if you are playing with 3 friends, you will each control a single character throughout your adventure, but if there is a spot open in the roster, participating gamers can opt to switch to the character(s) that may not be in use at any given moment using the directional pad. All of the puzzle solving and fighting occurs at a pretty swift pace throughout the course of the game. There is always an arrow in the top right-hand corner of the screen that directs the player(s) to their next checkpoint; rarely are you ever left in a position where it isn’t explicitly spelled out where you need to go next. Following in that straight forward mold of the genre, each stage conclude with a boss battle that usually requires you to combine both your fisticuffs and your intellectual skill. It is a nice balance that will keep multiplayer games focused on its participants functioning as a team.
All of this comes together and is presented in a great graphical style. The gameplay occurs from a top-down perspective and looks rather nice. The environments are lush, colorful, detailed and represent the source movie well. Occasionally, the gameplay is interrupted with either short cut-scenes using the game’s in-game engine or actual film clips from the feature length movie. Both look as good as you would expect a game on the current generation of consoles to look. The in-game engine looks highly polished and is arguably comparable to the quality of the Hollywood production(s). The same things can be said for the sound aspect of the game; the game utilizes the Hollywood voice actors and the actual licensed soundtrack to give a highly accurate representation of the film. Kids and adults alike will have no doubt, visibly or audibly, that this is in fact Shrek Forever After.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
You pretty much know that you are getting into when you throw Shrek Forever after into your Xbox. It is a family oriented action game that sticks to the mold of the genre from beginning to end. The younger gamers will thoroughly enjoy the adventure and older gamers won’t be completely annoyed by having to either watch or play along. It is a solid game with a level of polish often missing by numerous movie-games but is ultimately limited by its own source material. You will play it, finish it, and likely never look back. Thankfully though, you will probably do so without regret. I have to admit, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to going in.
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