This subject has been discussed, almost exhaustively, before, usually because the end result is about as pleasant as a lump of buffalo excrement, served between two slices of bread. It just doesn’t work. Or does it?
In the past, many of us have been subjected to a flood of substandard games, most of which accompany their big screen siblings, and usually they all end up being absolutely awful. Now, of course, the majority of these adaptations are aimed purely at children. My own son loves to play them, with Shrek 3, Cars and WALL-E among his favourites. And, being his dad and the owner of the only Xbox in the house, I thought I’d give them a try as well. This, it turns out, was a serious error on my part.
I’ve seen all three of them at the cinema and loved each one of them. They were all beautifully presented, with stunning vistas, smooth, colourful characters and well-written, humour-filled storylines. They were great, unlike the game versions. Shrek 3 was the first to come under scrutiny, and at first I was impressed. Although, when I say “at first” I actually mean for the first ten seconds. After that, the game quickly deteriorated into the aforementioned pile of buffalo excrement. The game was graphically woeful, almost to the point of causing blindness. The controls were rubbish, the camera angle unforgiving and the overall plot was a seriously diverted copy of the film.
I thought that a company like DreamWorks, the makers of Shrek, who were capable of producing seamless animation, would inject some of their magic into the game, but I was wrong. Instead, they seemed to have handed the entire project to one of the characters from One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest – most likely Jack Nicholson’s character, after he was lobotomized, but the pain didn’t end there.
After Shrek 3, came Cars. And it would seem that Pixar, not wanting to be outdone, also used the same surgically adjusted lunatic to produce their offering. Instead of a highly polished counterpart to the extremely successful film I was, yet again, left with an awful taste in my mouth. I know that it’s aimed at kids, but if I was under the age of ten I’d be insulted. The driving was similar to that of a forklift and the available tracks for those wishing to drive on them were more than vanilla in appearance, and design.
When it comes to children, the idea is amaze, entertain and, above all, challenge them in ways they couldn’t believe. I’m willing to bet that most kids, after seeing the movie, thought they would be able to drive around in an environment to rival that of the film, but instead they were presented with a town that had been drawn by a blind man using an Etch-a-Sketch. Surely, then, things must get better. No, they don’t.
WALL-E was next, and after my son had played for a few minutes he became quite frustrated. So far, every Disney or DreamWorks game has been extremely linear in design and WALL-E follows suit. Instead of a lonely but cute looking robot, roaming around the remains of the Earth, you are thrust into an environment that has all the freedom and adventure of a matchbox, with the matches still inside.
Then we had a miracle, a small one, but a miracle nonetheless. Avatar was released. I know, the film industry still isn’t quite there, but Avatar, if representative of the movie business, shows that progress has at least been made, but they still have a long way to go.
And what about my son? Well, he’s left Lightning McQueen behind in Radiator Springs and has instead opted for a Bugatti Veyron, on the Nurburgring, in Forza 3.