By Werner Dohse
Aaaghhhâ€¦ the dreaded movie tie-in! I’m sure we can all agree that good movie tie-ins are few and far between. I can probably count the number of successful games in this genre on one hand. Usually they are made quickly to get some cheap bucks off people who enjoyed the movie. Before I continue I need to admit that I’m a bit of a fantasy nut. I consume fantasy novels by the truckload, and with the success of the Narnia movies I was hoping that the game wouldn’t disappoint me. With that being said I’ll admit that the game isn’t half-bad, but by no stretch of the imagination is it in that handful of games mentioned above.
I believe that one needs to learn at least one useless bit of information per day. I mean, you never know when you might be in a life-and-death trivial pursuit game. As such, make ready for some earth shattering useless info: Although the Prince Caspian book was the second book published in the Chronicles of Narnia series, chronologically the events in the story only happens fourth. (I did warn you that it was uselessâ€¦ but at least you can go brag that you learned something new today.) The story starts, for the main characters at least, one year after The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe events. In Narnia however 1300 years have passed. During those years the Golden Age has come to an end and Narnia has been conquered by the Telmarines (not related in anyway to the US Marines). It’s up to them, with the help of 16 other characters to set things right. The game spans six different stages, guiding the characters through large scale battles, various caves, ruins and forests. The story quite obviously follows the movie and progresses using cut scenes sourced from the movie.
You always play in a group, anything from two or more. Each character in the group has different special abilities, for instance, one character might have a grappling hook with which you can scale certain walls, and another character might have a bow used to either attack enemies or shoot unreachable switches. When controlling a character it seems like you are the only one that can actually damage an enemy. The other computer controlled characters do attack the enemies but don’t actually damage them. At one point I stood next to one of the characters and just watched him bash away at someone for two minutes, with no apparent effect. Two hits from my sword and the guy was dead. The two biggest issues with the game are its camera angles and that the game is to damn easy. You’re supposed to be able to use the right analog stick to move the camera, most of the time this just pans the camera about five degrees left or right, sometimes not even doing that. There are a lot of sections in the game where you run blindly, purely because the camera is stuck behind a wall and doesn’t move through it or just don’t allow you to move it yourself. The combat, puzzles and adventuring elements are kept very basic and as such the game is really easy, reinforcing my belief that the game is targeted at younger players. Since you’re always in a party, the game allows a second player to jump in or out of the game at any time. It’s all offline however, which means both players have to share the same screen.
The control system is straight forward and easy, two buttons for attack, one for action (picking up object etc.) and one for switching between the characters. Either triggers are used to block and either bumpers to aim (when using the bow or grappling hook). It is however not as responsive as one would like, especially when trying to block. On numerous occasions I found myself holding the trigger expecting the character to block and to my utter dismay the character would just stand there yawning (noâ€¦ seriously).
The graphics in the game are quite frankly way below par. The character detail doesn’t look like it belongs on a next-gen console. What I feel I have to point out however, is the character animations. Using motion capture techniques, every animation of the characters looks realistic, from the goblins doing acrobatics to humans swinging swords. The music is excellent, it has some very well done orchestral compositions and the voice acting (done by the actors themselves) is great. The generic sound effects are a bit of a disappointment.
The bonus features in the game is quite reminiscent of a DVD. Through out the game you collect keys that open chests. Every chest that you open unlocks some bonus content, anything from concept art to videos of deleted scenes & movie clips.
I can’t help thinking that if they spent a little more time on this game, it could have been a winner. At the end of the day, the gimpy camera and the lack of any real difficulty smothered it. With that all being said, I think it’ll be a great buy for young fans of the movie, the game has a PG rating so it’s quite obvious who this game was intended for.
Gameplay: 6/10 [Battle system not really innovative enough]
Presentation: 4.5/10 [Camera angle frustrating, graphics not next-gen]
Sound: 7.5/10 [Excellent music & voice acting. Sound effects disappointing]
Value: 5.5/10 [Game is way to easy]
Overall: 6/10 [Buy it for your young kids]
Better Than: [Entertaining the kids yourself]
Worse Than: [A few other movie tie-ins]
Last Updated: July 25, 2008