Shrek’s back for another game piggybacking his latest theatrical adventure, whether you want him to be or not. The big, smelly green ogre even brings along all of his friends in playable form. What he failed to remember is any sense of enjoyment or utilization of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 platform’s strengths, not surprising given the game’s dubious film-inspired roots.
Shrek The Third is first and foremost a simple, linear adventure game targeted at younger audiences. The humor, provide by Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and other Shrek voice alumnus, is juvenile and on-par with the film, i.e. getting old and redundant, and the gameplay simple enough for a chimpanzee to schlep through. Did we really expect much more from a franchise churning out new film and game installments at a record pace?
Behind a moderately pleasant looking facade in Shrek The Third is painfully redundant hack-and-slash action kids might find entertaining, but adults will quickly want to step away from. Only two different attacks are available for each character outside of super fairy dust attacks, and those require collecting a minimum allotment of dust before they can be used. Aiding in the game’s monotony is a frustratingly fixed camera and limited variation in enemies. The difficulty does ramp up as Shrek and his cohorts enter new areas and some basic puzzles require solving before continuing, but by that time, any desire to complete Shrek’s quest has been squashed.
Developer 7 Studios does attempt to spice up gameplay by forcing the use of other characters and mini-games at scripted points. Some characters, such as Princess Fiona, are more enjoyable to fight with than Shrek given her faster speed and roundhouse kick attacks. Others, like Donkey, are a chore to control, much less getting them attacking in the desired direction. No matter which character is called upon, hack-and-slash tactics never go away.
The six mini-games, such as knocking down towers with a catapult, are the furthest departure from the mindless combat. Yet, their presence seems slapped into the mix as a last ditch attempt to salvage gameplay variety. I’d rather see them exist as an Xbox Live multiplayer party game than embedded amongst the single-player campaign, or perhaps given some Achievement point incentives to beat.
From an intellectual property perspective, Shrek The Third has enough familiarity to keep the young series fans happy. All the characters are accounted for and the story follows the film with some extra content thrown in for good measure.
From a video game perspective, Shrek The Third is another installment in a long line of lackluster games based on movie properties. Visually, the land of Far Far Away has a little pop on Xbox 360, but otherwise there’s little distinction between this version and those designed for last-generation consoles. The gameplay is old, tired, redundant, buggy, unimaginative, and frankly, boring. Not even new Achievement points were able to will me through to the end.
- Overall: 5.9
- The game looks nice and has plenty of character variety, but the boring gameplay and annoying bugs make this game one that we wish lived in a Far Far Away land.
— Dan Bradley