Platforms: DS, PC, PS2, PS3, XBox 360, Wii (Reviewed on 360)
I have yet to see any of the Chronicles of Narnia films. To me, the series begins and ends with the novels. When presented with an opportunity to try the game, cautious and optimism were the words of the day. The game was being published through Disney Interactive, but was being developed by Traveller’s Tales. If they guys who made Lego Star Wars were behind it, maybe everything was going to be okay.
The game starts off with a battle at Cair Paravel castle bridging the gap between the two films. I’ll admit I was a bit stoked. There’s a ton of characters on screen, and I’m thinking I’m in for a kiddie version of Dynasty Warriors. The camera drops in on my character, and then it all falls apart. Upon exiting the castle, I rush into battle expecting to open a can on all the non-believers. The only problem is they don’t want to fight me. More so, they can’t fight me. There’s an army of creatures on my doorstep, and all I can do is walk right through them. That is until a timer ticks down, and I’m allowed to fight some predetermined knight. This happens about four or five times before I’m finally free of this level and I’m allowed to play through what actually transpired in the film. Lucky me.
Taking control of the Pevensies is like being put in charge of brain-damaged mutants. Though part of that stems from the every-which-way-but loose targeting system in the game. About the only thing these kids seem to be good for is pulling levers and standing on switches. I understand the game is aimed at a younger audience, but that doesn’t mean the challenge of puzzle solving needs to be removed. The game also tries to implement co-op play a la the Lego franchise. It wouldn’t be so bad if the computer AI were competent. I guess that’s expecting too much from a tie-in game. Unless you hate your friends, forget about asking them to join you on this so-called adventure. After ten minutes, they’ll become so disenfranchised with gaming they may start reading a book. Heaven help us.
None of the character models in the game are going to be winning any beauty contests. The humans look like they were sculpted from melting wax. From a distance they don’t look too terrible. When viewed up close in cut-scenes, you feel as if you’re watching a horribly acted update of the Cher classic, Mask. The animal creatures so prevalent in Narnia, be they centaur or minotaur or any other “taur” you can think of, suffer from the same problem. From a distance, not so shabby. Upon closer inspection, the rendering makes hairy beasts look like overstuffed scarecrows.
I like what Traveller’s Tales has done in the past, and wish they could’ve made me care about Prince Caspian. It’s clear that like me, Traveler’s Tales would rather you play something else. Say Lego Indiana Jones for instance. Unless you are an absolute die-hard Narni-ite, this game belongs as far away from your 360 as humanly possible. Somewhere like Japan.