Game Reviews

We Review: Shrek Forever After The Game

The life of a game reviewer can be difficult. Sure, it may SOUND like fun and games, but it often means putting aside games I want to play for games that I’m required to play in order to review. Shrek Forever After is one of those games. In extreme cases, I’d much rather use the game disk as blunt razor and slit my wrists than play the game all the way to the end.

If you can forgive the blood-spattered typing, I’ll just get this review underway then. I promise I won’t waste your time as much as playing this game will.

Ready? 3…2…1…jump!

There seems to be a strange disconnect between translating movies, books, and games from one form to the other to the other. And sometimes, when things get weird, to the other as well. (If my words start seeming strange, blame it on the loss of blood. The things I do for you lot! I hope you appreciate my sacrifice!) I can appreciate the difficult balance that the challenge of transposing poses. Occasionally, you’ll get a really good translation (read: passably entertaining) that might prevent you from sinking into the sooty blackness of depression for an evening, but that seems to be about as good as it gets. Regrettably, the movie to game transition seems to suffer some horrible curse of mighty, corpulent affliction that probably has more to do with too much corporate meddling, too little time, and too little budget than with incompetent video game staff. This brings us neatly into the body of the review.

It’s not a horrible game

If you enjoy watching in rapt attention as grass converts sunlight into chlorophyll (ooh! A green metaphor! Ogres are green!), you might find some enjoyment out of Shrek Forever After. It’s not a horrible game. Definitely not horrible. Well, the voice acting is horrible, even terrible, since they didn’t bother getting the original actors to reprise their parts, but the game itself isn’t horrible. It’s just simply mind-atrophyingly boring.

Shrek Forever After follows the action of the latest (and last, according to rumor, but I don’t put stock in rumors) Shrek movie. Cunningly, they’ve given the game the same name as the movie, which proves that the developers at least know their subject matter when it comes to ogre movies. As near as I can tell, the game follows the plot of the movie almost directly, adding very little to the Shrek mythos, so if you’ve watched the movie, you’re not gaining much. If you haven’t watched the movie, I suggest you do that rather than spend the money on the game. For one, it’s cheaper to go watch the movie, and for two, you’ll waste less time and probably be far more entertained.

I wandered lonely as a camera

Mechanics-wise, the game uses a fixed point, 60° flying camera that floats above the action so that you have a decent view of the game field. It also means that you have a wonderfully riveting view of the least interesting part of Shrek’s (or Fiona’s, or Puss’s, or even more distressingly, Donkey’s) anatomy: the back of the head. Or in Donkey’s case, his ass. (I think I made a joke there, but that might just be the onset of death talking).

You can happily switch between any of the characters at will, which is required for almost all of the puzzles. Shrek can heave and pull heavy things, Fiona sets things alight, Donkey kicks things, and Puss climbs things. Some puzzles require the existence of a second player, but it would take a sincerely twisted and evil individual to subject another living being to such horrifyingly boring torture. The puzzles themselves are self-evident and not difficult at all for your below average gamer (read: anyone over the age of 8), since each character serves only one function. It doesn’t take rocket surgery to figure out that Donkey needs to kick the cart to make the barrel fall out, Shrek needs to take the barrel to the obstinately obstructive rock pile, and then Fiona needs to stand back and employ her pyromaniacal skills to light the handy trail of gunpowder. Big, boring boom.

Do you like fighting waffles?

Battles happen very, very occasionally, and usually in an enclosed area. You start being thankful for the infrequency of battle, and I’ll explain why. You’ll know a battle has started because the battle theme starts: “Do you like waffles? Yes we like waffles! Do you like pancakes? Yes we like pancakes!” While the song may have made some sense in the context of the movie, it adds nothing but complete annoyance in the game. Especially when the song is about 10 seconds long, and your average battle is about a minute long. Do the math. I hope you like waffles because you’ll be hearing this song a lot. And a lot. And if you haven’t started to bleed from your ears by the time the game is done, you’re either completely deaf, or not playing the game properly.

Although you can use any of the four characters to fight with, it’s a moot point in the end, since all the characters do exactly the same things throughout battle. You’re also pretty much stuck with whoever you had before you went into battle, so leveling up your characters is only great if you know where the battles are beforehand. And the only way to know that is to have played the game through at least once already. Who would do that? For the love of all things green and good, why??

Puzzled final thoughts

I’m not sure which audience the developers had in mind for this game. Fans of the Shrek franchise? No, because they’d lament the lack of original voice acting, and the fact that the game adds so much complete nothing to the mythos and setting. Fans of fighting games? Not them, either, since the fights in the game are highly sporadic and are accompanied by possibly the most annoying music I can think of wanting to hear during a battle. Fans of puzzle games? The puzzles are too simplistic to pose any challenge whatsoever. 8-year olds? You kidding me? They’re too busy playing Call of Duty.

I think this is the big problem. Because the developers either tried to aim the game too broadly (everyone), or too narrowly (8-year olds, or Shrek fans), it ended up being good for nobody. This is a pity, because there’s so much undelivered potential to the game. Maybe if the fights were more engaging and less annoying, or if the puzzles were more puzzling. Still, it ends up falling flat as a result, and leaves you feeling very much like not wanting to go through the experience at all.

Now kindly excuse me while I finish bleeding to death.

3 replies on “We Review: Shrek Forever After The Game”

ROFL! epic review. Pretty much confirming what i suspected but that you for going through that blood-losing, pancake-and-waffle-forcing event to tell us the truth about this game. Your sacrifice has not gone unnoticed and you will forever be remembered as my hero. BTW… do you like waffles?

shrekking, absolutely shrekking.

the worst bit is that they have managed to drop the england/man.u football top from his wardrobe, and for some unbeknown reason, they have changed Coleen’s name to Fiona. wtf is that about?

wonder if they will introduce the prostitute with the dlc?